Airbus SE will inspect the wings of its A380 double-decker jets after cracks were found on some planes.
The fissures could reduce the structural integrity of the wings if not repaired, according to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which is drafting an airworthiness directive on the issue. Aircraft won’t need to be grounded, with fixes to be made during scheduled overhauls.
Checks will initially affect 25 of the oldest superjumbos in service, including planes at Dubai-based Emirates, Qantas Airways Ltd. of Australia and Singapore Airlines Ltd. Remaining planes must be examined before they’re 15 years old.
A wing-crack debacle seven years ago cost Airbus millions of euros in repair and service costs, only one of the glitches to have plagued the world’s biggest passenger plane. Airbus said in February it would stop making the A380 after failing to build up enough of a backlog to keep production going beyond 2021.
An Airbus spokesman said small cracks had been found on the outer rear wing spars of early-production A380s, and that inspections and repairs can be accomplished at the same time as heavy-maintenance checks. The safety of the fleet is not affected, he said.
Airlines must use ultrasonic testing methods and, if damage is found, alert Airbus for repair instructions before the next flight, according to the EASA directive. A380s operated by Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Air France and charter carrier Hi Fly are also listed in the first batch requiring the checks.
By Marthe Fourcade and Christopher Jasper