Is The A380 Ready For Prime Time?

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We're fairly certain last week's failure of an Airbus A380 wing during a static load test conducted in France will have little impact on the type's certification and service entry. Still, it was an embarrassment for Airbus and its Wichita-based unit, Airbus North America Engineering, may have a little more work to do before placing paying passengers aboard what will eventually be the largest commercial airliner in the world. According to The Wichita Eagle newspaper, a static-load test of an example wing resulted in a fracture as it reached 145% of its limit load, or 3.3% short of its target. At that point, according to the newspaper, the wing had been deflected more than 24 feet at is tip. The fracture occurred in a portion of the wing, presumably the main spar, between the inner and outer engine mounting points.

According to the Eagle, "Airbus spokeswoman Barbara Kracht said the wings of the 555-seater may require 'refinements at certain points' as a result of the fracture." The company's engineers, working with the European Aviation Safety Agency and the FAA, will review the structural failure and determine what engineering changes must be made to the wings before the design can be certified. The Eagle quoted Airbus's Kracht as saying, "We will need to find out from the data what is really needed, but it's certainly not a redesign of the wing." Still, it's not a good thing that the wing of your newest offering fails in its first static load test. Singapore Airlines is the A380 launch customer.