EASA broadens A380 checks to whole fleet

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All Airbus A380s are to be subjected to inspections for wing-rib feet cracking after the European Aviation Safety Agency opted to extend its airworthiness directive on the issue.

EASA had previously ordered checks on 20 specific early-build aircraft, following the discovery of two types of cracking in the structural components.

"Following issuance of [the previous directive] it has been confirmed that Type 2 cracks may develop on other aeroplanes after a period of time of service," said EASA's new advisory.

It said all A380s must undergo the checks. Those with fewer than 1,216 cycles must be checked before 1,300 cycles. Those with over 1,216 but fewer than 1,384 cycles have six weeks for the checks, while those with more must be inspected in three.

EASA is requiring high-frequency eddy current inspection of certain wing-rib feet, and corrective action if necessary.

Given that nearly 70 A380s had been delivered by the time the directive emerged, Airbus had been braced for a probable expansion of the order.

Previously EASA had set timeframes for inspections depending on whether the aircraft had reached 1,300 or 1,800 cycles.

Airbus has developed an interim fix and traced the problem to stresses being imparted during the manufacturing process, which the airframer is amending.