Friday, March 02, 2012

Fwd: Wing Cracks Found On Some A380 Wing Rib Feet





Wing Cracks Found On Some A380 Wing Rib Feet

Engineers' Union Says All Aircraft Should Be Checked Quickly, Airbus And Airlines Downplay Safety Risks

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) has called for the inspection of all A380s flying for Qantas and other carriers after small cracks were found in the wing-rib attachments in some airplanes. The online news site Stuff.nz.co reports that Qantas discovered the cracks on one of its airplanes undergoing "extensive repair," and Airbus confirmed that the problem has cropped up in five superjumbos. Along with the Qantas airplane, one Emirates aircraft and two belonging to Singapore Airlines have wing-rib attachment cracks. The fifth airplane is a development platform belonging to Airbus.
Airbus and the airlines all say their flagship airplanes are completely safe to fly. Airbus said it will be issuing a service bulletin later this month requiring airlines to check the jets for the problem during their scheduled four-year heavy maintenance. The ALAEA, however, said the inspections should be done "as soon as possible."
The Associated Press reports that Singapore Airlines says its two A380s have already been repaired, though no specifics of the procedure were given. The airline said the cracks were found on "a small number of wing rib feet," which are the attachment points for the wing skin to the substructure. The ALAEA called the repairs a "band-aid" approach to the problem.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Airbus'  chief engineer Charles Champion said the cracks were less than a centimeter in length, and  told the paper that safety was not an issue because "there are so many ways for the loads to travel within the structure of the wing." He said that all A380s would be inspected "over time ... within the next four years. Some of them before."
Champion said that the cracks have nothing to do with the loads placed on the wings. He said the cracks were "very random." He said some airplanes had several cracks along both wings, while some had almost none.
EASA reportedly has no plans to issue an AD for the cracks, which Champion said shows that it is a "non-event."

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