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The European Aviation Safety Agency today formally expanded the airworthiness directive for cracks in Airbus A380 wing rib-feet to the entire fleet.The move is largely an administrative step after Airbus already announced it expected to see cracking in the L-shaped component on all A380s built, effectively signalling all aircraft would need checking and fixing. The cracking occurs because of an extra stress placed on the component during wing assembly. The manufacturing process is now being changed to avoid inducing the strain on the component (the material used in the rib-feet also is being changed). The AD so far covered only 20 A380s, those with flight cycles over 1,300 cycles. The updated AD requires airlines to perform inspections of the wing rib-feet once the A380 approaches 1,300 flight cycles. Specifically, the AD calls for A380s with fewer than 1,216 flight cycles to undergo the inspection when they reach 1,300 flight cycles or before; for those between 1,216 and 1,384 flight cycles the inspection has to be completed within six weeks or 84 flight cycles or six weeks, and those with 1,384 flight cycles or more within three weeks.Because the inspections can be planned out, they are unlikely to cause major disruptions among A380 operators.Look out for another AD later this year when Airbus unveils the permanent fix for A380s already built -- what is being put in place now is an interim fix.
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