Saturday, January 07, 2012

Qantas engineers demand 'Check aircraft cracks now'

The engineers union has warned a band-aid solution to the discovery of A380 cracks could turn serious unless the issue is fixed immediately.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association today called on Airbus and airlines which use the A380, such as Qantas, to inspect their fleets now after cracks were discovered on some aircraft.

However, Qantas has assured passengers that their safety has not been compromised and that the discovery of cracks on the wings of five A380s is nothing to cause alarm.

The maker of the A380s, Airbus, said the problems are not sufficient to ground the aircraft and the aircraft fleet is safe to fly.

The European plane maker has instead issued a service bulletin requesting airlines check for the issue when their superjumbos are serviced in the next four years.

The union is outraged over the news, calling for airlines to conduct inspections for wing damage as a matter of urgency.Paul Cousins, the federal president of the engineers' union, told Fairfax he was concerned that the pressure cracks in rib attachments would put stress on others in the wing.

"There is no way on God's earth that I would be waiting four years to inspect them," he said.

"At the moment it seems that a Band-Aid fix has been applied too quickly to a situation that could become very serious.

"This is a large aircraft carrying 520 people across the fleets in the world - we need to be absolutely sure it is flying safely," he said.

Cracks just under a centimetre long have been found in a Qantas A380 that was being repaired in Singapore.

Qantas said the cracks do not pose a threat to safety and it would wait on advice from Airbus.

"They are the experts and we will take their advice," a Qantas spokesman said.

Qantas is now checking the rest of its fleet and repairing any damage found.

Airlines worldwide have been informed about the issue, and ordered to check their aircraft regularly for cracking and other maintenance issues.

Singapore Airlines confirmed that a number of small cracks had been found in its A380s during an investigation in the second half of 2011, Fairfax reported.


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