Wing cracks: Airbus expects to solve A380 problem by year's end

Fixing the cracks ... an Airbus A380.
Fixing the cracks ... an Airbus A380. Photo: Reuters

Airbus expects to have a permanent solution for tiny cracks in the wings of its A380 superjumbo jets by the end of the year and repairs completed by the end of 2013, a spokesman says.

The company is currently carrying out temporary repairs to the micro cracks found in the wings of some 17 of the aircraft last year.

At the same time the company is looking to come up with a permanent solution to the problem, which has been traced to a small number of faulty brackets among the thousands that hold the wing's skin to the structure.

"The solution will be ready in the fourth quarter of this year, repairs will be staggered from the end of 2012 through 2013," the Airbus spokesman said on Monday.

A new manufacturing process is being tested and certified by engineers, and then repair kits will be produced and should be available for airlines as soon as in October.

Airbus has insisted that the cracks do not pose a safety risk, and envisages that the repairs can be made in 2013 when the aircraft undergo regular servicing.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has nonetheless ordered all A380s be inspected.

In November 2010 a Qantas flight out of Singapore lost an engine to an explosion. The jet landed safely despite damage, but the blast prompted the airline to briefly ground all its A380s.

Airbus has provisioned 105 million euros ($131 million) on its 2011 books to cover the cost of repairing the wing cracks.

The double-decker plane capable of carrying up to 800 passengers entered service in 2007 after years of technical delays. There are now 70 in service around the world.

Airbus said last month it still planned to increase production of the A380 despite the wing crack issue.

AFP

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