Only a few weeks ago Airbus said that the cracks discovered on the wing-rib feet of some A380s were not a threat to safety and they would be repaired as part of the four-yearly maintenance regime.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) does not agree. Carriers with A380s that have accumulated more than 1,300 takeoffs and landings must make the inspections immediately, and any aircraft that have made more than 1,800 trips need to be checked within four days. This translates to the grounding of some 20 aircraft or one third of the fleet within the next six weeks.
The inspection is done visually and takes just a few hours. In practical terms this means that each affected aircraft will be on the ground for a full day.
Although Airbus keeps stressing that while the cracking is “embarrassing”, it poses no danger to the passengers flying on the 380. The EASA Airworthiness Directive paints a slightly more ominous picture: “This condition, if not detected and corrected, could potentially affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane.”
The cause of the cracking is a manufacturing issue and will be dealt with during the four-yearly maintenance operation said Airbus when the cracks were first discovered on the 380 which had survived the engine explosion earlier. But more cracks were soon discovered which led to EASA’s order to ground the planes for checks. What should one think about this… Airbus’ opinion that you only need to touch the aircraft in 3-4 year’s time is in stark contrast with the EASA order to perform checks immediately.
Airbus does have a repair solution and aircraft still in the process of being built will not suffer from this problem says the manufacturer.
Well… better keep an eye on those wing-rib feet anyway.