FARNBOROUGH: A380 diversion spurs door modification

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Airbus is aiming to introduce a modified door for the A380 later this year, to eliminate a sealing weakness which led a Singapore Airlines aircraft to divert after loss of cabin pressure.

The airframer believes the weakness is also behind a number of cabin noise complaints.

All 16 doors on the aircraft will be subject to a modification programme, says Airbus executive vice-president of programmes Tom Williams, which could be incorporated into an airworthiness directive.

One of Singapore Airlines’ A380s diverted to Baku, Azerbaijan, in January after suffering damage to a left-hand door on the main deck.

Airbus has traced the problem to the cover plate fitted above the A380’s doors as well as the internal seal around the door perimeter.

Williams says that the doors are a “complex” item of engineering, designed to be large – to accommodate emergency evacuation requirements – with electric actuation.

The cover plate had started to separate from the upper edge of the door as a high-frequency vibration led to propagation of a crack through the skin.

While the subsequent pressurisation leak and diversion were the primary concern, Williams says: “We’re also looking at complaints from customers over noise from the doors.”

He says Airbus is developing a new seal and seal-carrier for the door, featuring a different cross-section, as well as a modified cover plate. “We think we have one that will work,” he adds.

There will be no changes to the surrounding structure of the door, he stresses. Airbus intends to have finalised the modification by around the fourth quarter of this year. The airframer had delivered 135 A380s by the end of June 2014.