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Airlines, Airbus say cracks on wings of A380s pose no threat

Airlines that fly the A380 superjumbo — 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 of the aircraft.

Qantas a380Enlarge
The Qantas Airbus A380 leaves the tarmac on its first flight since a mid-air engine explosion three weeks go on November 27, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. Qantas A380 flight 31 from Sydney will head to Singapore before flying to London. (Don Arnold/AFP/Getty Images)

Airlines that fly the A380 superjumbo — 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 of the aircraft.

The maker of the A380s, France-based Airbus, said the problems are not sufficient to ground the aircraft and the aircraft fleet is safe to fly, according to News.com.au. Airbus conducts four-yearly maintenance checks on A380s.

However, the union representing airplane engineers in Australia warned that the issue should be fixed immediately.

Paul Cousins, of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, told The Sydney Morning Herald that 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." 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 — the same plane that suffered a mid-air engine explosion after take-off from Singapore in November 2010.

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

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

The cracking on is barely visible to the naked eye and less than a centimeter long, according to AFP.

Singapore Airlines had carried out repairs to cracks on two of its 14 A380s, The Wall Street reported, citing a company spokesman.

"Cracks were found on a small number of wing rib feet on an Airbus A380 during inspections in the second half of last year. These pose no safety issue and repairs were carried out on the aircraft. Repairs were subsequently carried out on a second aircraft," Nicholas Ionides, the Singapore carrier's spokesman, reportedly said.

Airbus, based in Toulouse, has delivered 63 of the aircraft, which can carry up to 853 people and a total of 243 have been ordered by 18 customers — including Korean Air Lines, Malaysian and India's Kingfisher, according to the WSJ. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/traveltourism/120106/a380-safety-cracked-wing-airliner-worlds-safest-airline