Airbus A380 operators are facing mandatory checks for fatigue cracking in a specific belly area after scheduled maintenance checks uncovered damage.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) today issued a proposed airworthiness directive (PAD 13-173) that, if adopted, would require “detailed inspections” along the belly frame leading edge profile at fuselage frames 35-37. The initial check deadlines are at prescribed intervals based on the airframe’s service history. Repetitive checks would be required every 200 flight cycles or 1,475 flight hours, whichever occurs first. 

“A fatigue phenomenon was identified as the most probable cause of the damages,” EASA explains.

An optional modification that reinforces the affected area pushes the initial inspection thresholds out to 11,000 cycles or 80,300 hr.

The modification was incorporated into the A380 production line, though EASA’s directive does not indicate when.

Airbus informed operators of the issue in an Oct. 31 service bulletin. 

The issue is the second in the last six weeks involving required checks to A380 belly fairings. In mid-October, EASA proposed an inspection mandate for belly fairing panels near frame 46. The checks were based on an early October Airbus bulletin issued operators that detailed discovery of loose panels on an in-service aircraft.