October 18, 2013
Airbus A380 operators are facing inspections of specific belly-area fuselage panels after loose panels were discovered on an in-service aircraft, says a draft European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) directive published today.
EASA’s proposed directive (PAD 13-159) would require detailed inspections around specific belly fairing frames at 1,200 total cycles or 240 cycles after a final rule’s effective date. The checks, based on an Airbus service information sent out last week, would be required every 1,200 cycles going forward unless an Airbus-suggested modification is made.
“During an A380 transit check, belly fairing (BF) panels 191HL and 191EL in the underwing area were found displaced out of fuselage contour and loose at the aft end of Frame (FR) 46,” EASA explains. After removal of the BF panels, the BF FR 46 T-profile was found broken and the associated underwing spar found cracked.”
Airbus determined that the damage “was most likely caused by a combination of vibration in the area and a preload force, transmitted from the wing profile to the seal profile in the BF panel, which is dependent on the affected structure assembly tolerances,” the agency says.
EASA is accepting comments on the proposal through Nov. 15.