Airbus Group SE disclosed a cracking issue in its A400M military transport aircraft Friday and said its government customers must inspect the planes and make fixes if necessary. The issue doesn’t impact flight safety, the European planemaker said.
The issue was first identified in 2011 in tests before the plane went into service, Airbus said in an e-mailed statement. The company has agreed with the European Air Safety Agency and A400M customers on solutions that are currently being implemented.
“As part of the normal quality control processes in the A400M fleet we have identified a material issue,” Airbus said in a statement late Friday. “It concerns a previously unknown cracking behavior of an aluminum alloys material. The issue is not impacting flight safety and does not require any immediate measures beyond a program of inspections and repairs that can be incorporated into the normal maintenance and upgrades schedules.”
The cracking issue adds to a chain of woes that have emerged since Airbus began developing the plane for seven European customers and Turkey more than a decade ago. It also raises questions about how much more money must be spent getting the plane into shape in order to satisfy customers. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: The cracks were originally discovered in 2011 during ground fatigue tests, an Airbus spokesperson said May 16, and their root cause has been investigated since.
Their discovery in some A400M aircraft earlier this year roughly coincided with the determination of the root cause. The root cause is a combination of the chemical make-up of the aluminium alloys in which some of the frames are made – all aircraft have frames made of different materials -- and environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, pressure and time exposure.
Airbus and EASA have agreed on an inspection regime, and the cracks do not threaten flight security, the spokesperson added; customers will have the option of repairing the frames or replacing them.)