has temporarily grounded one of its while it waits to hear whether the manufacturer recommends any fixes for hairline cracks discovered in wing rib feet.
The airline describes these cracks as “minor,” unlike the more serious, or type two, cracks that led to the(EASA) issuing new inspection guidelines for the wing parts. Qantas found cracking in about 35 rib feet out of about 2,000 in an A380 wing.
Qantas has sent inspection results to Airbus, and the manufacturer will advise if any repairs are needed, or if the carrier is simply required to inspect the aircraft again during its next maintenance check. Either way, the airline expects the aircraft to be back flying within a week.
The aircraft in question, VH-OQF, was involved in a severe turbulence incident on Jan. 7 over India. It was given a visual inspection in Singapore, and cleared to continue to Sydney. However, Airbus requested “additional precautionary inspections,” the airline says.
It was during these inspections, which began Feb. 5, that the hairline cracks were found. However, Qantas says the cracks were unrelated to the Jan. 7 turbulence event.
Similar hairline cracks were found on another Qantas A380, VH-OQA, that has been under repair in Singapore since being severely damaged by an uncontained engine failure on Nov. 4, 2010.
These are the only two Qantas A380s to be inspected for the cracks so far.
The cracking already has been fixed on VH-OQA, the aircraft which is still in Singapore. A Qantas spokesman tells Aviation Week that the carrier still plans for this aircraft to return to Australia in late March. It has not started test flights, but those are expected to begin soon, the spokesman says.