The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD), ordering inspection of certain Airbus A380 aircraft for the possible presence of cracks in the wing rib feet.
The AD states:
Following an unscheduled internal inspection of an A380 wing, some rib feet have been found with cracks originating from the rib to skin panel attachment holes (Type 1 cracks according to Airbus All Operator Telex (AOT) terminology).
Further to this finding, inspections were carried out on a number of other aeroplanes where further cracks have been found. During one of those inspections, a new form of rib foot cracking originating from the forward and aft edges of the vertical web of the rib feet has been identified (Type 2 cracks according to Airbus AOT terminology). The new form of cracking is more significant than the original rib foot hole cracking. It has been determined that the Type 2 cracks may develop on other aeroplanes after a period of time in service.
This condition, if not detected and corrected, could potentially affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane.
For the reasons described above, this AD requires a Detailed Visual Inspection (DVI) of certain wing rib feet. This AD also requires reporting the inspection results to Airbus.
This AD is considered to be an interim action to immediately address this condition. As a result of the on-going investigation, further mandatory actions might be considered.
The cracks were discovered by Airbus engineers while performing repair work to a Qantas A380 that had suffered an uncontained engine failure near Singapore’s Changi Airport. Singapore Airlines also discovered some cracks in on the L-shaped feet of the wing ribs. The feet attach the rib, a vertical fixture, to the cover of the wing.
On January 9th a spokesman for the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association demanded that all A380 aircraft should be grounded for inspections. Airbus reported that all planes were safe to fly and that the cracks did not pose a safety threat.
- A380 wing cracks ‘really is not a safety issue’: head engineer (Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Jan 2012)
- Singapore Air Checks A380s After Cracks Found (Bloomberg, 20 Jan 2012)
- EASA AD 2012-0013