January 19, 2012
By DANIEL MICHAELS And ANDY PASZTOR
The Wall Street Journal
European air-safety regulators are poised to order enhanced inspections to combat new cracks found in some structural components inside the wings of Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft, according to government and industry officials.
The anticipated European Aviation Safety Agency directive, which could come within the next few days, marks the second time in recent months that industry and government officials have focused on cracks inside A380 wings. The latest move highlights evolving maintenance programs that are intended to detect and address unexpected structural issues, sometimes during the introduction or early months of new airliner models.
A spokesman at Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., confirmed the discovery of new cracks in wing components on its A380 superjumbo jetliners. But he said the fissures, which are separate from the earlier hairline cracks found on several planes, don't affect the two-deck airliner's safety.
All the cracks are in L-shaped brackets that attach the wings' metal skin to structural ribs inside, said spokesman Stefan Schaffrath. He said that Airbus has already established an inspection and repair program with EASA to address the first category of cracks. Repairs for the second type of cracks are identical, according to people familiar with the plans: replacing the affected brackets. New A380s now in production will incorporate changes that address the problem, one of these people said.
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