More A380 wing cracks found: sources

Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:57pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Engineers inspecting Airbus EAD.PA A380 aircraft for cracks on a part inside the wings have found similar flaws on at least one aircraft, industry sources said on Tuesday.

European safety authorities ordered urgent inspections on just under a third of the superjumbo fleet last week after two types of cracks were discovered on a bracket inside the wings of the world's largest jetliner.

Cracks have been found inside the 9,100-square-foot wing of at least one of the superjumbos examined under last week's directive, industry sources said.

They also said cracks on another part of the wing were discovered two years ago. The problem was documented at the time but attention has not focused on that incident until now.

Airbus insisted on Tuesday this was a different issue from the latest flaws and had been resolved. European safety inspectors reacted to the earlier problem by ordering checks in October 2010, a month before an engine blowout severely damaged a Qantas (QAN.AX: Quote) A380 and triggered global headlines.

It was during $130 million repairs -- lasting more than a year -- to that airliner in Singapore that the latest type of crack was discovered. This in turn has led to the discovery of another and potentially more significant type on the same part.

Airbus and safety authorities are stressing the 525-seat airplane is safe to fly as engineers check wings for more tiny cracks in a type of wing bracket known as rib feet.


<p>An Airbus A380, the world's largest jetliner, takes part in a flying display during the 49th Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget airport near Paris June 26, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes</p>