Airbus is seeking a substantial increase this year in the operational duration of cartridges used to activate escape slides on the A380, after admitting that it currently has to replace the components after 70 flights.

It is planning to increase this interval five-fold, to at least 350 flights, by summer and to reach a higher figure – which Airbus describes as a “normal” level – by early 2009.

The airframer says the components are only used for activation of the eight non-overwing slides on the lower main deck of the A380.

Escape slides for the A380 are manufactured by US firm Goodrich. The manufacturer is deferring to Airbus on the matter.

Airbus stresses that the relatively-frequent replacement, performed as a routine part of scheduled maintenance, is not a safety issue. “This was known and approved well before entry into service. It has no impact on the operation of the aircraft,” says an Airbus spokeswoman.

“Goodrich is working on increasing [the interval],” she adds. The spokeswoman points out that the A380 has demonstrated extremely high dispatch reliability since introduction with Singapore Airlines in October last year.

Singapore Airlines is preparing to take delivery of a third A380 later this month which will enable it to begin operating on the Singapore-London Heathrow route in March.

Source:'s sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news