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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Nation/World

Entire Fleet of Faulty Airbus A380s To Undergo Inspection

Cracks in the wings found that, "if not detected and corrected, may lead to a reduction of the structural integrity of the aeroplane," according to the European Ait Safety Agency.

More inspections are in order for the Airbus A380, as the European Air Safety Agency extended checks to the entire fleet Wednesday morning.

The EASA is extending checks on the entire fleet
The EASA is extending checks on the entire fleet

Previously, only those super-jumbo jets that had over 1,300 takeoffs and landings were privy to inspection. However, following the discovery of hairline cracks in the wings of nearly all of the 20 airplanes inspected, EASA has called for the remaining 48 to undergo inspection, regardless of age.

The A380, which first took off with Singapore Airlines 2007, is a double-decker which can carry up to 800 passengers. There are collectively 68 in use now, flown by Air France, China Southern Airlines, Dubai’s Emirates, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and Qantas Airways.

The initial order for inspection was aftermath of an incident in November 2010, when the engine of a Qantas A380 exploded during a flight, sending shrapnel through the wing. The consequential investigation of the wing revealed hairline cracks in L- shaped brackets which adhere wing skins to the frame.

Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said that the parts in question are “not a primary load-bearing structure.” He added, “The safe operation of this aircraft is not at stake.”

However, EASA said in its edict to airlines that, “This condition, if not detected and corrected, may lead to a reduction of the structural integrity of the aeroplane.”

The fractures are a result of a manufacturing error on the A380s, of which Airbus is aware and is working on both a temporary and long term solution.

In the meantime, Qantas has grounded an A380 after locating 2 centimeter fissures after experiencing heavy turbulence during a flight above India in early January. It is expected back in the air within a week.

The remaining A380s all need to undergo inspection in the coming weeks. Those found with cracks in the wings need to get them repaired with a temporary fix.

Airbus is expected to launch a permanent solution approved by EASA this summer.

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