EASA said in the AD that the “new form of rib foot cracking [Type 2 cracks], originating from the forward and aft edges of the vertical web of the rib feet “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.”
According to the AD, effective, Jan. 24, A380 aircraft that have accumulated between 1,300 and 1,799 flight cycles must be inspected within six weeks or 84 flight cycles, whichever occurs first after the effective date. Aircraft that have accumulated 1,800 or more flight cycles must be inspected within four days or 14 flight cycles.
An Airbus spokesperson told ATW in a statement: “Cracks have been found on some non-critical, L-shaped brackets (also known as rib-skin attachments or wing rib feet) inside the wings of a few A380s. The cracks are not on the wings; they are on a very few of the thousands of brackets inside some of the wings. The discovery of the cracked parts—and the rapid response to this by our airline customers, regulatory authorities and Airbus—demonstrate clearly how well the safety net works in this industry. Throughout the aviation industry, procedures are established to find such occurrences, and these procedures are working.”
Airbus said it “has established an inspection and repair program in conjunction with EASA that has been mandated now by the EASA Airworthiness Directive. The cracks do not affect the safe operation of the aircraft. We continue to work closely with EASA and our customers through the inspection and repair process.”