Safety checks ordered for all Airbus A380 airplanes

The latest order is not because any new cracks have been found, but expands on earlier checks.

Story highlights

  • The European air safety agency orders all A380s checked for cracks in the wings
  • The order does not ground the fleet
  • There are 68 A380s in operation around the world, the company says

All Airbus A380 airplanes must be checked for cracks in the wings, the European Aviation Safety Agency ordered Wednesday.

The order covering all A380s does not mean the planes must be grounded, said Dominique Fouda, a spokesman for the aviation agency. "They can fly, they just have to be checked within the time frame," he said.

It expands an existing order that the 20 oldest A380s be checked for cracks, Fouda said, adding, "Now, with the second directive, we are including the whole fleet."

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Planes that have completed more than 1,384 takeoffs and landings must be inspected within three weeks of February 13, the agency said.

Those that have completed 1,216 to 1,383 flight cycles have six weeks, and planes that have performed fewer than 1,216 cycles must be examined before they reach 1,300 cycles.

If cracks are found, the airline must contact Airbus for instructions, the agency said.

The 68 A380 planes in operation are being flown by Air France, China Southern, Emirates, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qantas and Singapore Airlines, according to the company website. Another 185 planes have been ordered, Airbus says.

South Korea's Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said that it will issue an order to Korean Air on Thursday to conduct a safety check on its five A380 aircraft. There are no immediate safety issues, the ministry said.

None of the aircraft will need to be inspected before next spring. Any inspection carried out beforehand would not be beneficial in terms of determining safety of the aircraft, the ministry said.

Wednesday's order was not prompted by any new cracks, but is a normal follow-up to the original directive, which was issued three weeks ago, Fouda said. He called the directives an interim measure, saying a long-term fix is "now being worked on with Airbus."

That, he said, should be in place by the summer.

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