Australia’s Qantas Airways said today it had grounded one its flagship Airbus A380 aircraft for up to a week after engineers found dozens of cracks in its wings during detailed inspections following a flight hit by turbulence.
The discovery of more instances of cracks on the wings of A380s has been expected after Airbus said last month it had found the problem and predicted a consistent pattern would emerge until it had time to conduct repairs.
However, the 36 small cracks were found during routine checks on the A380 at Sydney’s main airport after a flight in which it experienced severe turbulence.
The cracks, each no longer than two centimetres, appear to be different to earlier kinds found in A380 wings, the Australian flag carrier said in a statement.
“This cracking is not related to the turbulence, or specific to Qantas, but is traced back to a manufacturing issue,” the Qantas statement said, adding that Airbus had confirmed the cracks had no effect on flight safety.
It said the cracks were not as serious as those discovered by Airbus in Europe last month.
“This type of cracking is different from the ‘type two’ cracking found on certain A380s in the global fleet, which is now the subject of a European airworthiness directive,” it said.
Qantas has 12 Airbus A380s.
Last month, Airbus blamed a recent series of A380 wing cracks on a combination of design and manufacturing flaws and said it had worked out a two-stage solution.
Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS, has repeatedly said the A380s are safe to fly.