Airbus begins installation of A380 wing reinforcements as interim fix after test rupture

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By Max Kingsley-Jones in Filton

Interim fix developed as UK operation seeks long-term solution after test rupture

Airbus has begun to install a strengthening package on to the wing of a completed A380 as an interim solution after the static-test specimen suffered a premature rupture during its ultimate load test. Meanwhile, Airbus UK is working on a long-term redesign of components.

“We have devised a small modification package while we go through the analysis to understand [the rupture] in detail and devise a long-term solution, to present that to the European Aviation Safety Agency [EASA],” says Airbus UK head of A380 wing engineering Phil Hamblin. “The interim package is being put into the aircraft on the production line at the moment. Longer term, rather than add on reinforcings, we’ll embody the modifications into the machining of the baseline components at source.”

Airbus UK senior vice-president Brian Fleet says the interim modifications have been incorporated into the wing of MSN003, which is the first A380 for Singapore Airlines and currently in Hamburg for cabin installation.

“The remainder of the wings that have already been delivered will be modified in the next few months,” says Fleet. “Wings delivered from MSN018 onwards will have the modifications incorporated before delivery to the final assembly line.”

Hamblin says that, although the interim modifications have not been approved by EASA, the agency “has been taken through our findings and our analysis of the test, and has approved our approach”. He adds that approval “will be covered in the documentation presented for A380 certification” later this year.

Fleet says discussions are already under way with suppliers about modifying the base designs.

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