The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says it is close to releasing an airworthiness directive (AD) approving and mandating the permanent full-life fix for the cracking problem affecting Airbus A380 wing-rib brackets.

The AD is for the permanent retrofit of both in-service A380s and those currently on the final assembly line (FAL). Airbus also indicates that the AD is “imminent” and that it already received EASA certification for the full-life, permanent retrofit for the A380 wing ribs several months ago.

“We had the agreement with EASA [at the] end [of] 2012 on the retrofit modification and the production modification,” a spokesman tells Aviation Week.

He says the airframer and selected MRO providers at the end of 2012 or early 2013 started retrofitting the in-service and FAL aircraft with the permanent modification.

Work still is being performed on these aircraft, he adds. Last month, Lufthansa Technik Chairman August Wilhelm Henningsen told Aviation Week that the company was carrying out the permanent wing feet repairs on one of Lufthansa’s A380s at its Frankfurt facility, and that the retrofit takes 40 to 50 days.

The MRO division of the Lufthansa Group has contracts to perform the permanent retrofits on 31 A380s: 10 from Lufthansa’s fleet, 12 for Qantas and nine for Emirates Airline.

The work on the Qantas A380 fleet will be conducted at Lufthansa Technik’s facility in Manila, while Ameco Beijing will carry out the Emirates retrofits.

Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance, meanwhile, says it may perform permanent retrofits on Air France’s A380; until now, the temporary wing repairs of Air France’s fleet have been “mostly handed over to Airbus,” says AFI KLM E&M.

Airbus says it also started production of the first all-new wings with ribs and feet made from “7010” aluminum at the end of 2012, and that it expects to receive EASA certification for the permanent modification in the second quarter.

The first aircraft with the new wing rib design will be delivered in the first quarter of 2014.