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Qantas finds serious 'type-two' cracks in wings of A380s, talks compensation


The European Aviation Safety Agency is to issue a new directive extending last month’s inspection of 20 A380 superjumbos for wing cracks to all 68 Airbus jets currently in service.


Don Arnold

Qantas wants compensation from plane maker Airbus after it found the more serious ''type-two'' cracks in the wings of both A380s it has inspected so far.

Australia's Fairfax press wrote that the Australian airline's discovery of the cracks raised the likelihood of its 10 other A380s suffering the same problem.

The checks are being carried out on the order of the European aircraft regulator and affect all of the double-decker A380 aircraft that have flown more than 1,300 times.

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The carrier Emirates has taken six of its planes out of service for inspections and repairs, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

A Qantas spokeswoman told the ABC that the airline was in discussions with Airbus, owned by EADS, about the cost implications of the latest defects in the planes.

Qantas told Fairfax that its engineers had discovered ''limited'' numbers — or fewer than 10 — of the more serious ''type-two'' cracks on both the Nancy-Bird Walton, under repair in Singapore since suffering a mid-air engine explosion in November 2010, and another A380. The latter has been repaired and returned to service.

Airlines and Airbus have insisted that the cracking poses no risk to passenger safety.

Airbus claims the repair bill of the cracked wings worldwide is likely to top more than $130 million.

Last week, the company's executive vice president of programs told a German magazine that Airbus would need years to get past problems with wing cracks.

"This problem will keep us busy for years," weekly Der Spiegel quoted Tom Williams as saying in an article published last Sunday and cited by Reuters.

Williams said Airbus aimed to have a solution for the problem in April and would start installing new parts in planes by the end of the year, according to the article. 

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