BERLIN (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) has ordered increased inspections of A380 wings after discovering unexpected levels of metal fatigue during testing on a factory mock-up, industry sources said on Thursday.
The planemaker has asked airlines to inspect the wing's "spars" or main internal beams during heavy maintenance visits carried out after 6 years in service, and again after 12 years, doubling the current rate of inspections, they said.
The move comes as Airbus emerges from a two-year program of modifications and charges triggered by the discovery of cracks on brackets inside the wings of A380 jets already flying.
This time, however, the flaws have not been discovered on aircraft in service.
A spokeswoman for the Airbus Group subsidiary confirmed the discovery of "fatigue findings" on a factory test plane and said this would be addressed during routine maintenance inspections of the world's largest jetliner, which remained "safe to fly".
Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Lionel Laurent