EADS has spent some €200 million out of an expected €260 million total outlay this year on repairs to cracked Airbus A380 wing rib feet, the company revealed Thursday. Still expecting Airbus to deliver 30 A380s by the end of this year, EADS must absorb the costs even while the A380 continued to generate no contribution to profit margins in the third quarter, according to EADS chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm. Still, the company remains committed to reaching program “break-even” by 2015, he said.
EADS expects certification before the end of the year for its “forward-fit” solution to the wing cracking problem on “fresh-build” A380s scheduled for assembly in 2013 and delivery in 2014. “This is a full metallic solution, so I think that’s very straightforward,” said Wilhelm during the company’s quarterly earnings call. Airbus is incorporating what Wilhelm called its retrofit solution in the A380 flight-test aircraft “as we speak” and plans intensive flight testing “in the weeks to come,” in time for certification some time around the end of the year.
“Don’t nail me down on whether it’s December or January, but it should be around the year-end, which is key for sure to proceed with a retrofit campaign with all of the customers as had been agreed,” he concluded.
First discovered in January by Airbus engineers engaged in repairing a Qantas A380 that suffered an uncontained engine failure near Singapore Changi Airport, the cracks prompted the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to issue an AD that calls for a detailed visual inspection of certain wing rib feet. Airbus has said the condition does not pose a safety threat, and the EASA stopped short of grounding any of the airplanes.