Friday, 27 January 2012

Cracks appear in the era of the A380

Having flown in this beautiful mammoth double-decker aeroplane of the sky before it was quite a shock to read about the Airbus A380 developing cracks in its wings. Airbus have blamed a combination of both design and manufacturing flaws.

Airbus A380
Image via Wikipedia

The European aircraft manufacturer have managed to establish a way to repair the cracks found on a small number of parts within the wings. This led to European safety authorities ordering safety inspections. The safety inspections are set to be carried out on almost a third of the A380 fleet.

The one-off inspections have not resulted in the grounding of aircraft pending checks but does involve the aircraft being out of service for 24 hours. The more heavily used aircraft which have already been through at least 1800 flight cycles are to be checked first. A flight cycle is one take-off and landing.

"The A380 is safe to fly," Tom Williams, executive vice president of programmes at Toulouse-based Airbus, said. He said engineers had ruled out metal fatigue on the youthful aircraft which first entered service in 2007.
English: ILA 2008: body of an Airbus A380 whic...
Image via Wikipedia
Airbus has blamed the cracks on three errors - designers' choice of aluminium alloy for some of the 4 000 brackets inside the wings, the use of a type of bolt that strained the metal and a way of closing tiny gaps that put more stress on a handful of parts.
The A380 has had a troubled entry to the market. There were a number of production delays which requires the A380 to be manufactured in various countries across Europe. In fact EADS only managed to achieve its delviery target for the first time in 2011. In November 2010 a Qantas A380 suffered an engine blow-out.

Just about all the operators of the A380 including the likes of Air France, Singapore airlines have declined to comment and have not mentioned grounding the planes. There are 68 A380's in service.

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