Cracks found in A380 wings

2012-01-06 08:13

Sydney - Australian carrier Qantas and Singapore Airlines on Friday reassured passengers there was no risk to safety after cracks were found on the wings of several A380 superjumbos, including some in their fleets.

Airbus revealed on Thursday that "minor cracks" had been found on some jets, but the European plane maker said they posed no safety problem and recommended a way they could be fixed.

Qantas said the cracks had been found on one of its 10 A380s.

"Minuscule cracking was found in the wing ribs of the Qantas A380 being repaired in Singapore," a Qantas spokesperson said in a statement.

"No immediate action is required by A380 operators because the cracking presents no risk whatsoever to flight safety."

The cracking on the Qantas A380, which is barely visible to the naked eye and less than a centimetre long, is on the plane that suffered a mid-air engine explosion after take-off from Singapore in November 2010.

"Investigations have found that the cracking is unrelated to the engine failure incident," the Qantas spokeswoman added. "It has now been repaired."

Rival Singapore Airlines said it had also found cracks on the wings of two of its 14 A380 aircraft last year and repaired them.

"Cracks were found on a small number of wing rib feet on an Airbus A380 during inspections in the second half of last year," spokesman Nicholas Ionides said in a statement.

Increased load

"These pose no safety issue and repairs were carried out on the aircraft.

"Repairs were subsequently carried out on a second aircraft."

Toulouse-based Airbus, the main subsidiary of aerospace giant EADS, said on Thursday that minor cracks were found on some non-critical wing rib-skin attachments on a limited number of A380s.

"We have traced the origin. Airbus has developed an inspection and repair procedure which will be done during routine, scheduled four-year maintenance checks," the planemaker said.

"In the meantime, Airbus emphasises that the safe operation of the A380 fleet is not affected."

Qantas said it would comply fully with the formal guidance now being developed by Airbus, which is likely to require A380 operators to inspect wing ribs for this type of cracking every four years.

But the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association said all A380s should be probed for the cracks on the components, which run all along the wing to keep it structurally sound, as soon as possible.

"If one of them fails during flight, it's going to put an increased load on the others that are most likely cracked as well," union secretary Steve Purvinas told AFP.

"They should be inspecting them all now and repairing them."

The A380 is the world's biggest passenger jet and a key product in Airbus's line-up as it battles its main rival US giant Boeing for the top spot in the world civil airliner industry.

The double-decker plane entered service in 2007 after years of technical delays. There are now 67 in service around the world and, while they have never had a fatal accident, there have been teething problems.

  • Linda - 2012-01-06 08:37

    If I had a choice, I'd rather fly an A380, firstly cos its an amazing machine and secondly if anything were to go wrong, there are so many passengers on board you're likely to be on eof the 1% survivors hehe, just kidding!

      pasca.motaung - 2012-01-06 09:51

      Good one!!!

      mundu.olewega - 2012-01-06 16:37

      Don't agree.... The French don't know how to build aeroplanes. I fly a lot and only feel safe on a Boeing.

      jowza1 - 2012-01-06 17:24

      fly soul crack there only zol

      graeme.talbot - 2012-01-06 17:31

      @mundu.olewega The French don't build the A380, they assemble the A380. The A380 wings are actually built in the UK. Just take a look at only the boeing 737, 71 fatal crashes in its history. Many of those crashes caused by similar problems which were never replaced or fixed and sometimes took years to even be realised. So fly your Boeing, but next time think carefully about their poor safety standards and reluctance to fix known problems that cause fatal crashes. I am not anti-Boeing but Airbus have much higher safety requirements as a direct result of the higher standards of the European Aviation Safety Agency. I still feel safe on both companies planes.

      Sharkshoot - 2012-01-06 17:49

      Good crack.

  • Karlheinz von Bentheim - 2012-01-06 09:02

    Small crack in non critical components can propagate into large cracks in critical components

      Wollie - 2012-01-06 09:37

      Correct, an accident is not one thing going wrong, it is a series of events that lead to the accident.

  • gembleton1 - 2012-01-06 09:09

    If these cracks are forming then there is a stress load, and stress load develop into catastrophic failer, the entire fleet should be removed from service and repaired by Airbus.

      DiamondDirk - 2012-01-06 10:22

      In that case, don't fly as 95% of all planes, Boeing or MD's all have cracks. Like any vehicle, stress and vibration causes cracks. You don't fix your car's rims if they have hairline cracks right?

      Beetroot - 2012-01-06 18:22

      DiamondDirk - yes you are very right. But I would rather have to fight th esteering wheel because of a bad wheel than try float a 3000 ton anvil doing the speed of gravity!

      Beetroot - 2012-01-06 18:24

      ... and it pisses me off because then the cart takes even longer bringing my second drink!!

  • jonathan.bertasso - 2012-01-06 09:42

    Airbus we thank you for being so transparent!

      DiamondDirk - 2012-01-06 10:22

      Yes, Airbus is doing a "cracking" job

  • peter.norma - 2012-01-06 10:17

    The question is, can the manufacturer be believed? They don't want to spend millions if they think that they can get away with it. Look what happened to "Challenger" in 1986. The engineers expressed concern about the O ring seals, but management and NASA overrode their recommendations because of economics and ego. The A380 has only been flying for less than 4 years, so any small cracks anywhere should surely be a huge concern.

  • sudika.harkhu - 2012-01-06 12:18

    Airbus has had an awful track record in the last few years. Take the accidents of Air France (no survivors) and Yemenia Air (1 survivor). The Air France accident was attributed to faulty speed sensor readings and some other technical glitches. Countries who buy Airbus should be wary of these factors.

      Juan - 2012-01-06 14:11

      There are only 2 major manufacturers of passanger airliners that I am aware of, Boeing and Airbus. Boeing have had their fare share of disasters as well

      bradley.oakleybrown - 2012-01-06 17:45

      I believe it was actually mostly due to pilot error?

  • Leslie - 2012-01-06 13:31

    Have any of you flown on a BA Jumbo 747 lately? They shudder alarmingly on take off. I am far more nervous in one of those old things than an Airbus A380 which is so smoothe you hardly know you are airborne. And anyway, if Airbus were worried and already have 67 of these planes out there I doubt they would take the risk to save a few (million) Euros.

  • Steve - 2012-01-06 13:38

    Thank goodness SA dont own one, because they would not have found a hairline crack... They would have found a crack pipe!

  • Yvette - 2012-01-06 13:54

    I'm not really surprised that they have found cracks, think about it - the temperatures at 35000+ feet is far below freezing. Anything would crack if it was continually being frozen and thawed. The fact that they are on top of things and know about the cracks actually makes me feel pretty safe!

  • duncan.cramer - 2012-01-06 14:36

    "The cracking on the Qantas A380, which is barely visible to the naked eye and less than a centimetre long, is on the plane that suffered a mid-air engine explosion after take-off" Mid-air engine explosion?!?!? ....ehem....excuse me ladies and gentlemen. please do not be alarmed by this small...***BOOOM!!*** ....sorry about that. As soon as we extinguish the fire from the mid-air engine explosion, I can carry on telling you that this small crack is nothing to be worried about.

      Anton - 2012-01-06 14:53

      OMG that's hilarious!! I just fell off my chair...

  • Rodney - 2012-01-06 14:45

    Sounds like the A380 isnt what its cracked up to be .

  • MarkandChantal - 2012-01-06 15:55

    People drive in cars with brakes that are not 100% or cars with balding tyres .Planes have to be 100 % all the time ,if they are 98% then its unair worthy. If that was the case with a Hi ace taxi then there would be no transport in South Africa

  • Jacques - 2012-01-06 15:57

    and what about the cracks you cant see? Sorry, I am not flying in that!

  • Clutch - 2012-01-06 15:58

    Dang, my car is two years old and guess what? No cracks yet!

  • Shirley - 2012-01-06 16:16

    I doubt if airbus would go public with this and lie. Im sure there are cracks in most planes and the old saying"what the eye doesnt see.........."

  • comurray - 2012-01-06 16:34

    It is all very well to say these are "non critical", that is, until a wing rips off in mid flight. What will Airbus say then??

      Squeegee - 2012-01-06 17:03

      Oops! ?

  • Amanda - 2012-01-06 17:42


      John - 2012-01-06 19:00

      ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • Trevor - 2012-01-15 11:01

    I sure as HELL will not fly on a A380...the wings are Carbon fibre which is HELLISH strong, as long is it does not CRACK! They fail without warning....and it sounds like a problem across the board...but that is to be expected from an all new plane, just like any new car...for now...I'll pass!

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