Factory and design flaws caused A380 cracks

Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:47pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Airbus acknowledged a combination of internal manufacturing and design flaws as more examples of wing cracks arose during checks on the A380, while insisting the world's largest airliner is safe to fly.

A top executive said the European planemaker had established how to repair the cracks on a small number of parts inside the superjumbo's wings, which prompted European safety authorities to order inspections last week.

Airbus and one of the leading operators, Singapore Airlines, confirmed a Reuters report that more examples of the cracks had been discovered during compulsory inspections.

"The A380 is safe to fly," Tom Williams, executive vice president of programs at Toulouse-based Airbus, said.

The cracks were caused by factors including the choice of aluminum alloy for some of the 4,000 brackets in the wings as well as a type of bolt that put too much stress on the metal.

Engineers have ruled out metal fatigue, Williams said.

Airbus moved to shore up confidence in the world's largest jetliner amid a drip-feed of disclosures about cracking on components used to fix the outside of the wing to its ribcage.

Williams flew to Dublin to give an unscheduled address at an industry conference to dampen any concerns about safety.   Continued...