Airbus A380 Wing Fix May Ground Aircraft for Eight Weeks
By Bloomberg News – Jun 11, 2012
See Dr. Pinna’s comments below…
Airbus SAS said airlines flying the A380 double decker will need to ground their planes for as long as eight weeks when the wings undergo permanent repair work that is more complex than an interim fix being done now.
Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy, speaking in Beijing at the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association, confirmed the time frame, after Emirates President Tim Clark said the final fix can take eight weeks.
“Of course we are not happy, but we have to live with it,” Clark said in the interview today in Beijing. “There was an error in design and specification of metals and plastic composite to the aircraft. They are making detailed studies of what happened and what they have to do.”
The wing-crack debacle has cost Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence and Space co. more than 250 million euros ($315 million) in repair and service costs, and the manufacturer has said the issue will occupy the company for years. Emirates is the biggest A380 customer, having ordered 90 aircraft in total. The company has already taken delivery of 21 of the double-decker planes. It has 14 more scheduled for delivery that will require the eight-week removal from service.
Delivered With Defect
The cracks are the result of new technologies mixed with insufficient design controls.
Airbus engineers have determined an altered design for the wing that would use different materials. Once safety authorities have approved the change, Airbus can alter manufacturing of the wings in Broughton, Wales, allowing aircraft coming off the production line by January 2014 to be free of the defect.
Planes delivered from now until the beginning of 2014 still contain the defect, and require both short-term fixes if cracks develop, as well as the permanent repair that can take eight weeks per plane.
Airlines taking delivery before 2014 will have the choice between an immediate, permanent fix once the planes come off production lines, or repairs in stages during required maintenance checks after about two and four years, Leahy said.
The interim repairs that come first are supposed to take about six days, according to Airbus. Clark said some of his planes were out of service for 42 days to get the fix.
“It’s taking quite a long time because we have the largest fleet,” Clark said. “Will it get done? Of course it will get done. Is the aircraft safe to fly? Of course it’s safe. It’s just a burden for us.”
Emirates isn’t seeking compensation and merely wants the job done, which is “hugely expensive” for Airbus, Clark said. He said Emirates has proposed that Airbus stop producing A380s and sort out the issue first, though Airbus rejected the idea. A report in La Depeche saying the grounding may take as long as three months is wrong, an Airbus spokesman said.
Airbus has traced the cause of the cracks to the choice of a less flexible aluminum alloy used to make the wing brackets, as well as the way in which fasteners are put through holes, and the stresses involved in fitting portions of the wing together.
The short-term, or interim fix has been applied to more than a third of the about 75 A380s in service. That solution will be applied to other operating A380s as the number of landings and takeoffs reaches a threshold mandated by regulators that requires the fix.
Dr. Pinna says…
The real cause of this expensive repair is GREED.
Both the airlines and the manufacturer want to make more money on every flight.
In order to do so, they sacrificed safety.
This is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
FIRST PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2012
Airbus A380 Fleet Requires Wider Inspections
By Andrea Rothman and Steve Rothwell, from Bloomberg
Airlines operating the Airbus SAS A380 aircraft will be required to perform wider inspections of the superjumbos after Europe’s air safety regulator extended the checks to the entire fleet of the double-decker jetliner.
The broader fleet check will follow a Jan. 20 so-called airworthiness directive by the European Aviation Safety Agency that required addressing potential wing cracks only on 20 A380 aircraft that were among the most heavily used. The new directive will cover the entire fleet of 68 aircraft, EASA spokesman Dominique Fouda said by telephone from Cologne today.
Airbus, the largest maker of passenger jets, has attributed the cracks to the manufacturing process of the wings and has identified a two-step fix. Short-term repairs will take as many as five days for each plane, while a longer term solution will include new materials and a different way of assembly.
Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s largest carrier, suspended use of one of its Airbus SAS A380 passenger jets for as long as a week after discovering cracks in wing parts, the carrier said today. Singapore Airlines Ltd, the first airline to put the A380 into service in 2007, has also repaired some of its A380s and has put the jets back into operation.
Hairline cracks discovered in some A380 wings in late December were initially not deemed critical, with Airbus calling for fixes only at the routine four-year checks. A second series of bigger cracks around the central part of the wing were considered graver and prompted EASA to require the inspection of the first batch of 20 double-decker planes.
The updated directive was prompted by the first inspections a few weeks ago, Fouda said. The cracks were traced to the choice of a less flexible aluminum alloy used to make the wing brackets, the fashion in which fasteners are put through holes, and the stresses involved.
The cracks have appeared just as Airbus is starting to move beyond the losses linked to production glitches that had dogged the airliner for years. Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Space& Defence Co. had aimed to break even on the model by 2015, as it wins new customers and ramps up production.
A total of 253 A380s have been ordered by 19 customers, with Emirates, which has ordered 90, being by far the biggest. Emirates now has 20 A380s in service, Singapore has 15, Qantashas 12, Air France KLM Group has eight Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) has six, Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd. has five, and China Southern Co. Ltd. has two. The aircraft has two levels and typically seats about 550 passengers in three classes.
Dr. Pinna says:
I am a believer in the philosophy that “Big is Bad” and Small is beautiful.” I believe this about countries, corporations, aircraft and even animals.
Size has a built in negative quality. The larger the size, the weaker the communication. The larger the size the weaker are the components relative to the whole.
In terms of this super jet, the aluminum molecules and their crystals are supporting stresses that are beyond their natural ability. A molecule of aluminum has a finite attraction for another aluminum molecule. This is determined by the electron orbits of Aluminum. These orbits do not change statistically. We can see that the aluminum crystals are separating. already as they tiny cracks appear.
The major factor of weakness in large objects, whether planes or governments, is the “Reinforcement Principle.”
As a plane or a government or an animal, such as an elephant or a very large man, becomes weak in one area, that weakness “Reinforces” the weakness of other areas.
If an elephant or a large man, both of whom carry so much weight, which is a weakness, requiring unusual strength in the rest of the body, develops a weak knee, this can be the death of the elephant or the man under conditions of unusual stress, such as combat with another elephant or a strong and fast man.
These planes, the 380 Jumbo Jet, were designed with the goal of making high profits. They were not designed with the safety of the passengers and the crew as the primary goal.
Peruse the history of extra large jets, such as the Concorde and the DC10. The Concorde is gone and the DC10 is used for cargo. Cargo is much easier to distribute its weight. Passengers are not.