EASA in final stage of certificating A380 wing fix

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Europe's safety regulator has assured that certification for the Airbus A380's reworked wing is on track and near completion.

Airbus had originally hoped that it could secure approval for the permanent retrofit last year but subsequently acknowledged that the process would move into early 2013.

The fix addresses the rib-bracket cracking problem which emerged in January 2012.

Aircraft already in service, as well as those in advanced production on the final assembly line, are being modified through a retrofit which replaces hybrid ribs in each wing, and also involves fitting additional local reinforcement.

The European Aviation Safety Agency says it is "in the final stage of releasing" the final closing airworthiness documentation which will approve and mandate this full-life retrofit of in-service and undelivered A380s.

"Things are progressing normally and according to plan," the authority says, insisting that there is no hold-up in the approval.

"Target dates are provided as a very broad indication, as far as certification is concerned, and should always be taken very broadly, and [seen as] approximate."

Airbus has delivered 100 A380s but has forecast that it will hand over around 120 before a solution is finally in place.

Certification of the final production fix, however, will be carried out "at a later stage", says EASA.

This will focus on approving the permanent rectification of the problem, which will be integrated into A380 wing production.

Airbus is to replace the hybrid ribs with all-aluminium components built from a more robust material, and make other amendments to the wing structure, as part of a revised production process. The airframer plans to start delivering the first A380s with these all-new wings to customers in 2014.