By Andy Sambidge
Airline CEO says he expects superjumbos to arrive on schedule despite wing crack issues
The chief executive of Qatar Airways said on Monday he was confident the airline would receive delivery of its A380s from Airbus on schedule despite the current wing cracks problem.
"We have confidence in the A380. We are going to definitely receive our A380s on schedule. We will make sure that all the problems airlines are facing [with the A380] will be resolved before we take the aircraft," Akbar Al Baker told Reuters on the eve of the Singapore Airshow.
Last week, airlines operating the Airbus A380 aircraft were told they will be required to perform wider inspections of the superjumbos after Europe’s air safety regulator extended the checks to the entire fleet of the double-decker jetliner.
The wider inspections will follow a January 20 so-called airworthiness directive by the European Aviation Safety Agency that required checks for potential wing cracks only on 20 A380 aircraft that were among the most heavily used.
A total of 253 A380s have been ordered by 19 customers, with Dubai's Emirates Airline, which has ordered 90, being by far the biggest.
Airbus, the largest maker of passenger jets, has attributed the cracks to the manufacturing process of the wings and has identified a two-step fix.
Short-term repairs will take as many as five days for each plane, while a longer term solution will include new materials and a different way of assembly.
Qantas Airways, Australia’s largest carrier, suspended use of one of its Airbus A380 passenger jets for as long as a week after discovering cracks in wing parts, the carrier said last week.
Singapore Airlines, the first airline to put the A380 into service in 2007, has also repaired some of its A380s and has put the jets back into operation.
Hairline cracks discovered in some A380 wings in late December were initially not deemed critical, with Airbus calling for fixes only at the routine four-year checks.
Emirates now has 20 A380s in service, Singapore has 15, Qantas has 12, Air France KLM Group has eight Deutsche Lufthansa has six, Korean Air Lines Co has five, and China Southern has two.
The aircraft has two levels and typically seats about 550 passengers in three classes.