The entire 68-strong Airbus A380 fleet must be inspected for new cracks in wing-rib feet after the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) today extended an earlier requirement limited to 20 airframes. Different cracks were discovered during checks under the initial EASA airworthiness directive (AD2012-0013, which has now been superseded by AD 2012-0026). Originally, some rib feet had been found with cracks emanating from the rib-to-skin panel attachment holes, but during inspections “a new form of rib-foot cracking originating from the forward and aft edges of the vertical web of the rib feet has been identified,” says the EASA. “If not detected and corrected, this may lead to reduction of the structural integrity of the aeroplane.”
Detailed visual checks initially mandated have been replaced by requirements for high-frequency eddy current inspections of certain wing-rib feet, accomplishment of applicable corrective actions and reporting of findings to Airbus. Checks must be made before aircraft reach 1,300 flight cycles or within six weeks for A380s with 1,216-1,383 flight cycles or within just three weeks for those with 1,384 flight cycles or more. The A380 flies with Air France-KLM, China Southern Airlines, Emirates Airline, Korean Air Lines, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.