Airbus Industrie and Messier Dowty are testing a fix for the main landing gear of the A340 long-range airliner, which, if successful, will enable the removal of operating restrictions on all A330s and A340s.

The work follows the incident involving a Sabena A340 in August in which the right main landing gear collapsed as the aircraft landed at Brussels. The fault was traced to excess stress in the torque link in the upper part of the landing gear, which caused catastrophic failure.

The accident led to an Airbus-derived airworthiness directive (AD) which placed restrictions on the turning radius of A330s and A340s. Despite Airbus' insistence that the AD bought with it no operating restrictions, the turning limitation has been described by airline sources as proving "impractical" when landing at certain airports.

According to Airbus, the fix entails removing a "small amount of metal" from the main landing gear torque link, to remove the stress point where the crack occurred that led to the original failure. The ventral gear fitted to A340s will also be strengthened. All aircraft in service will be retrofitted with modified gear if the tests prove successful. Airbus is unable to provide a date for completion of the tests, however.

There have been no further incidents since the Sabena accident. The AD calls for all A340s and A330s to be checked after 800 flight cycles and thereafter every 120 cycles.

Source: Flight International