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Cracks Found in Airbus A380 Wing Ribs

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THE discovery of tiny cracks in one of the wings of a Qantas A380 under extensive repair in Singapore has led to the detection of similar problems in four other Airbus superjumbos worldwide. The cracks - less than a centimetre long - in the wing ribs of the A380s do not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the aircraft. The ribs are vertical fixtures that stabilise the wings. But their detection is expected to prompt Airbus to issue a service bulletin to airlines later this month requiring… (www.smh.com.au) Mehr...

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mynewego
mynewego 0
Yea, tiny cracks, no problem. Uh, sure EADS I believe you.
akarnold
Keith Arnold 0
Big cracks have little cracks upon their back, to bite them.
Little cracks have smaller cracks,
And so ad infinitem.
sparkie624
sparkie624 0
WOW... This young of a Fleet.... I won't fly in one of them. Not surprised either of this showing up. All that weight adds up to a lot of stress.
theschoolofchuck
Charles Collins 0
Ya, I just got done reading another article about these cracks. Very interesting.
mpradel
Marcus Pradel 0
is there a way AB can blame this on the pilots?
genethemarine
Gene spanos 0
I guess the wing-rib cracks should be there - then ? It's OK ?
Give us a break - here on the ground and locked into the glide paths
from Hell.
acvb
Little cracks finished Comets...
jrembold
jerry rembold 0
After having worked in the aircraft maintenance industry for 35 years on many different aircraft types, from different manufacturers, I can say that if you have flown commercially, the aircraft you flew on had at least 1 crack somewhere. Little cracks are not a problem. It's when the cracks don't get found during inspections and maintenance the cracks get bigger and you lose the top of the aircraft in flight.
chalet
chalet 0
What you are sahying is that crap happens..........
mpradel
Marcus Pradel 0
crack happens.. i fixed it for you!
sparkie624
sparkie624 0
Very True... But this is a brand new fleet. Brand New Airplanes. Most of the time you do not start finding cracks like this for a period of time anyway. This fleet is way to young to start that. Just remember. Little Cracks turn into bigger ones.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
Airbus - "I'ts not a problem at all......check all your planes NOW"
sstuff
sstuff 0
Also remember Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 529 on 8-21-1995. From the NTSB’s Executive Summary:

“The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the in-flight fatigue fracture and separation of a propeller blade resulting in distortion of the left engine nacelle, causing excessive drag, loss of wing lift, and reduced directional control of the airplane. The fracture was caused by a fatigue crack from multiple corrosion pits that were not discovered . . . . “
thunderland2
al fredericks 0
so much for alpa & betta testing or so called life testing. these wings i believe are made from poly-carbonate which is (so they say) are impervious to cracking. as with the COMET a little fatigue cracks advance to join others till they fail from stress all at once. because P.C bends easily all of the stress is spread away.
mduell
Mark Duell 0
The A380 wing ribs are aluminum.
sparkie624
sparkie624 0
As are most planes.
thunderland2
al fredericks 0
SORRY MY ERROR - STILL, CRACKS ARE CRACKS
thunderland2
al fredericks 0
NOT ALL - I STILL STAND CORRECTED. i was thinking of wing coverings (ex-dreamliner) not ribs. please, in all your well meaning PLEASE FORGIVE or i will not go to airplane heaven. on bended knee. AL
dbrooks84
David Brooks 0
Reminds me of problems with the cracks in the wing box on the C-5. Repairs were carried out and the USAF had to restrict certain operations of the C-5. Weight was a major factor in case of the C-5s. C-5B tried to improve on the wing box, but still had restrictions.

In the case of the Comet, the windows were the problem as they had designed them in a rectangular shape with 90degree right angles. Cracks developed on this extremely stress point. Answer was simple, round off the curves for the windows to avoid a high stress point. Also, the aluminum alloy used also would crack under repeated pressurization. Answer, use a new and improved aluminum alloy.
mduell
Mark Duell 0
> Also, the aluminum alloy used also would crack under repeated pressurization. Answer, use a new and improved aluminum alloy.

Since aluminum has no fatigue limit, all aluminum will crack eventually from repeated loading.
preacher1
preacher1 0
These being in the wing ribs wouldn't be subject to pressurization but defintely wing loading.
chalet
chalet 0
Wasn´t thickness increased also on the Comet besides rounding the windows
skyfly12
shawn white 0
I watched a seconds from disasters and they said it was from the screws or nails used that the cracks originated or something.
preacher1
preacher1 0
You know, I had always heard about that rounding the window business on the Comets, but awhile back there was a show on one of the history or NG channels and it said nothing about the windows. It said it was the deal on top of the fuselage for the radio/radar whatever. It was square and they changed it.
dbrooks84
David Brooks 0
The windows on the Comet were the prime failure point. A square corner, under pressure, has major stress placed on it. The "smoking gun" was found from the wreckage of the Comet that went down off the coast of Italy. They found parts of the cabin where a window was supposed to be but the area showed it had blown out. They also found cracks at the corners of a number of windows from the wreckage too.

However, that was not the entire story. Basically, building jet passenger planes which under went regular pressurization and depressurization lack an appreciation on the metal and metal fatigue. It was the combination of factors - windows and thee aluminum alloy used as there was stress cracks on other areas on the fuselage. De Havilland built a special stress test fixture for the Comet. They used water to stress the fuselage on a Comet 1. They experienced metal fatigue resulting in rupture on the fuselage (I don't remember which part).


There were other Comet crashes and I don't think exact causes were found for them. Highly likely that metal fatigue was key in all crashes.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Well, they are there; young fleet;AB says inspect 'em and fix 'em now but won't issue a service bulletin this month saying how, and then says they aren't hazardous, and that the service bulletin will be to inspect them during the 4 year maintenance cycle. As one mx man says in a comment above here, there are probably cracks in anything flying but as another says, this is a young fleet. Anybody remember the SWA 737 where the roof split open at Yuma earlier? Best I remember that was way earlier than Boeing's prediction. Makes you wonder.
canuck44
canuck44 0
It would be nice to hear from one of the Engineering and Maintenance folks as to what it takes to "fix" one of these wing ribs. This must be a massive job on a 380. I may be assuming incorrectly that the stressed rib would need to be replaced or a strengthened/redesigned part substituted supplied by the manufacturer. Cost must be huge in actual dollars and down time...who picks up those costs if this proves to be a design problem?
akarnold
Keith Arnold 0
A rib foot is a small flange which is an integral part of the rib. The rib foot is bolted through a stringer, to the wing skin or cover. Usually with a countersunk swage lock (hydraulically tightened) fastener. There are dozens of rib feet along the top and bottom of each rib. This is established and widely used technology.
If in the fuel tank, difficult job but doable. Entry is through a “manhole cover” in the lower wing skin.
Structure covered in various layers of surface protection and sealant. Thousands of rib feet in total.
Repair depends upon where the cracks are, and which part of the rib foot is affected.
Do cracks originate from fastener or edge of part?
Disposition ranges from use as is, to scrap aircraft.
Probable fixes range from drilling crack stopper holes, adding washers, bolting on reinforcing plate or angle, or replacing the rib foot with a bolted on version.
Investigations would include determining whether cracks were load path dependent or fastener installation related.
Is the area in question as per drawing, or has been subject to a concession, or is out of spec?
Who designed the part, who manufactured the part, who inspected the part?
Airbus has implicated the use of 7449 Aluminium as a possible cause. Google it.
Apparently this alloy has superior weight and strength properties but is apparently susceptible to cracking due to stresses induced during fastener installation. This is not my field though.
My guess is that Airbus is correct in stating that this is not a safety issue (due to multiple load path redundancy), but will accelerate inspection and repair and will start using a different alloy.
Airbus will have to bear the cost unless it can be shown that a supplier has erred.
Don’t forget that the A380 wing has come through a major test of it’s structural survivability following the uncontained engine incident which started this whole thing.
sparkie624
sparkie624 0
LOL, They would down play it with fancy terms making it sound like nothing. If they are already getting cracks, what is going to happen in 5 or 10 years.
onceastudentpilot
tim mitchell 0
Just remember we are talking about a big big big aircraft that carries a lot of weight....Just because the fleet the new that doesn't really mean anything because usually it is the first batch of units that are put into service that serve as a platform to see how the fleet will perfom...Sure they have test aircraft but the test aircraft are only used to give a general idea of how a plane will respond under certain conditions...During testing the test probably weren't subjected to max gross performance and probably not subjected to real world situations like severe, turbulence, wind shear, icing etc.....I am waiting to see what they find whenever the first 787's roll in for their first heavy maint. interval...Especially with the wings because of the way the flex.
mduell
Mark Duell 0
During certification testing the aircraft are often loaded beyond max gross, particularly for some tests like RTO where they don't want to do it again in the near future for a heavier variant.
onceastudentpilot
tim mitchell 0
ok....now I know

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