European planemaker Airbus now has a second problem with tiny cracks appearing in the wings of its new superjumbo A380. Yesterday, Australian carrier Qantas Airways said it was grounding an A380 on which it had spotted 36 hairline cracks.
The problem for Airbus is that these cracks are different than others that had been spotted earlier on A380s. In January, the European Aviation Safety Agency had issued a directive calling for “a detailed visual inspection” of the aircraft’s so-called “wing rib feet” — the metal brackets that connect the wing’s ribs to its skin, according to the Associated Press.
Now, the EASA has extended that required inspection to the entire fleet of A380s now in service. That fleet now comprises 68 planes currently flying at seven carriers. None of the major U.S. carriers, including Delta (NYSE:DAL), United Continental (NYSE:UAL) or AMR (PINK:AAMRQ), are currently flying A380s.
While the A380 is giving Airbus fits, archrival Boeing (NYSE:BA) is having its own problems with its high-tech 787 Dreamliner. Yesterday, The Seattle Times reported that Boeing said “delamination” problems that affected the skin of the airplane were being dealt with swiftly and posed no safety hazards. Airbus also says the wing cracks on the A380 will be quickly dealt with.
EASA spokesman Dominique Fouda told the AP that the agency is “working with Airbus on a long-term fix that should be ready by the summer.”