The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has extended its order for inspections of Airbus A380s for potential wing cracks to all in-service aircraft.
The updated airworthiness directive (AD) issued Wednesday mandates a high frequency eddy current inspection of all A380s and follows up on an initial directive issued three weeks ago (ATW Daily News, Jan. 23). That directive was made after Type 2 cracks were discovered in the wing brackets of some A380s and it applied to aircraft that had flown between 1,300 and 1,799 cycles.
Airbus has already informed all A380 operators of the updated AD, which is the same as the initial AD and uses the same repair procedures, but extends it to lower-cycle aircraft.
Aircraft that have accumulated less than 1,216 flights will have to be inspected once they accumulate 1,300 flights. Aircraft between 1,216 and 1,384 flights are to be inspected within six weeks of Feb. 13, the agency said. Aircraft that have completed more than 1,384 flights will have to be inspected within three weeks of this date.
“EASA and Airbus are working closely together to ensure the continuing safe operations of the A380 aircraft type. In accordance with EASA, Airbus has established a repair scheme if cracks are found during the inspection. In parallel EASA and Airbus are working on a long-term fix to be defined by the summer of 2012,” EASA said.
Airbus issued a statement saying, "In line with standard airworthiness procedures, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has updated its initial inspection and repair requirements for the A380 wing brackets. The update of the Airworthiness Directive (ref 2012-0013) first issued on January 20th covers the A380 fleet as they approach 1,300 flight cycles and validates the ongoing inspection and repairs on the 20 aircraft covered by the first AD.
“Further updates to this AD are expected as part of standard worldwide airworthiness procedures. Airbus confirms the safe operation of the aircraft is not affected."
Separately, Boeing Commercial Airplanes marketing VP, Randy Tinseth, confirmed on his blog that a shimming issue has been discovered on some 787s in production.
“Shimming is a routine practice used across the industry to fill small gaps that occur naturally during manufacturing. Shims are basically engineered fillers used to make sure parts fit together. In this case, we found that incorrect shimming was done on the support structure of the aft fuselage of some 787s. Our engineers have a good handle on the situation and have a straightforward fix,” Tinseth said.
“The good news is there’s no short-term safety concern. Repairs will take days, not months, and can be conducted concurrent with other planned build activities. This work has already started on some airplanes.”
Tinseth said all customers had been notified.