Airbus A380 operators affected by a new inspection requirement are not anticipating any disruptions resulting from the checks, nor have early results turned up any new issues.

The checks, which EASA will soon mandate, are for hairline cracks in outer rear wing spars. Airbus is recommending that the 25 oldest operating A380s undergo the inspections within 15 years of the aircraft’s “initial wing box assembly,” the manufacturer said. This spreads deadlines for the affected aircraft out over the next several years. The timeframe should allow most inspections to be done during routine heavy maintenance visits. Six airlines and one lessor are affected.

Emirates Airline, operator of nine of the 25 identified airframes targeted for the checks, has “scheduled and begun conducting the additional inspections on those aircraft identified,” a spokesperson said. “So far, there has been nothing untoward in the findings.”

Qantas, which operates six affected aircraft, said its deadlines are between June 2020 and May 2021, but it is accelerating the inspections and working them in as the airframes are removed from service for routine work

“Inspections are not required on these aircraft for another year or two and are being done well in advance of the required timeframes,” Qantas head of engineering Chris Snook said. “We have completed inspections on two aircraft and there were no concerns with the structural integrity of the wing.”

Air France, with two affected aircraft, is consulting with Airbus and awaiting a finalized service bulletin that Airbus is developing, an Air France spokesperson said. As soon as the airline receives notification, it plans to apply the bulletin's inspection procedures.

“The analysis of these hairline cracks is not of an urgent nature and they do not in any way affect the safety of flights operated by Airbus A380,” the spokesperson added.

Other affected operators include Singapore Airlines, with four aircraft, as well as Lufthansa and Hi Fly, with one each. Lessor Afa Press has two in storage.

Operators will share inspection results with Airbus. Depending on the findings, the checks may be expanded to a larger subset of the 240 A380s in service.

News of the checks emerged in a July 5 draft airworthiness directive that EASA plans to finalize later this year. Airbus said it recommended the checks based on an unspecified number of "occurrences" of outer wing-spar cracks reported by operators. Neither the EASA directive nor Airbus has connected the issue to one uncovered in late 2011 that led to a costly fleet-wide wing-rib retrofit and redesign.

“The crack findings in the outer rear spar are a new topic to us,” an Airbus spokesman said.

Sean Broderick, Sean.broderick@aviationweek.com

Adrian Schofield, adrian.schofield@aviationweek.com

Helen Massy-Beresford, Helen.Massy-Beresford@aviationweek.co.uk

Jens Flottau, jens.flottau@aviationweek.co.uk