Airbus Cracks And Cockpit Blackouts

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New wing cracks on an Airbus A380 airframe and the continued possibility of full panel blackouts aboard some A320s put Airbus back in the spotlight this week. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Thursday announced that operators of A380 superjumbo aircraft must perform additional "repetitive detailed visual inspections" after a new area of the jet's wing showed signs of cracking. EASA is already working with Airbus to create an approved repair process for another wing cracking issue known to affect existing aircraft. Meanwhile, The Associated Press chose this week to highlight that an electrical problem that has led to instances of extensive failures of instrumentation and avionics aboard Airbus A320 aircraft has yet to see fleet-wide correction.

For the A380, Airbus was previously aware of another issue that caused cracking in some wing components aboard existing aircraft. The company has addressed the issue and, together with regulators, is implementing a fix. Also, the A380's wings have had a production redesign that Airbus hopes will prevent that problem from occurring on any newly built aircraft. The new area of concern is an inboard wing bracket that could lead to loss of a panel in flight and Airbus will work with regulators to resolve that issue as well. As for the A320, The Associated Press reports that more than 50 of the aircraft have suffered episodes resulting in multiple electrical failures since the aircraft entered service more than 20 years ago. Half of those episodes resulted in the loss of five of six cockpit displays. One such instance aboard United Flight 731 in January 2008 resulted in loss of cockpit displays and radios. None of the incidents have resulted in a crash. The Associated Press notes that while the manufacturer has created a fix, the FAA gave operators until 2014 to put that fix in place -- meaning that some jets may still be at risk.