Qantas’s first Airbus A380, christened the Nancy-Bird Walton (shown here), suffered an uncontained engine failure after taking off from Singapore Nov. 4, 2010. By Geoffrey Thomas

Airbus engineers carrying out repairs on the Qantas (QF) A380 that suffered an uncontained engine explosion in late 2010 after take-off from Singapore have found a small number of 3 mm.-long cracks in the aircraft’s wing rib feet (ATW Daily News, Nov. 3, 2010).

On Friday, a QF spokesman told ATW that “minuscule cracking was found in the wing ribs of the QF A380 being repaired in Singapore but investigations have found that the cracking is unrelated to the engine failure incident experienced by this aircraft in November 2010 and is not unique to QF. It has now been repaired.”

In a statement to ATW, an Airbus spokesman said: “Airbus confirms that minor cracks have been found on some non-critical wing rib-skin attachments on a limited number of A380s. We have traced the origin to a material-related manufacturing issue. Airbus has developed an inspection and repair procedure which will be done during routine, scheduled four-year maintenance checks. All A380 operators have been informed. It’s very important to note this is not a safety issue, and that EASA is in agreement with our approach.”

ATW understands similar cracks have been found on one Singapore Airlines (SQ) A380, which was in for a C check. 

Airbus has also found the same issue on two test aircraft.

“No immediate action is required by A380 operators because the cracking presents no risk whatsoever to flight safety,” a QF spokesman said.

“Formal guidance is being developed by Airbus that is likely to require A380 operators to inspect wing ribs for this type of cracking every four years in line with scheduled maintenance checks. Qantas will comply fully with this guidance when it is published.”

Sources tell ATW that the cracking appears related to production and not fatigue.

QF expects the A380 under repair—its first—to be returned to service in March.