The Guardian - Dan Milmo, industrial editor - EADS reveals payouts to airlines including Emirates and Qantas as it announces 87% rise in full-year profits .
Airbus faces a compensation bill of €105m (£87m), payable to airlines including Emirates and Qantas, to repair cracks in the wings of its global fleet of A380 superjumbos.
Airbus's parent, the European aerospace and defence group EADS, revealed the cost at its annual results in Paris on Thursday morning, a month after safety checks for the state-of-the-art aircraft were extended to all 67 in service. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has warned that if they are not detected the cracks inside the wings "may lead to reduction of the structural integrity of the airplane".
The EASA directives have applied to two types of crack. The most serious defect, located in a specific area of the A380 wings, relates to brackets that attach the A380's wing ribs – the elongated, oval-shaped frames that run along the width of the wing – to the wing's metal skin. The cracks were created by the stress generated when the brackets were fastened to the skin – a strain that was exacerbated by the flexing of the wings during flight.
A380 wings are built at the Airbus factory in Broughton, Wales, but it is understood that the most serious cracks are a design fault. The main Airbus wing design facility is at Filton near Bristol although the brackets at the centre of the safety scare were not made there. So far 18 planes have been checked for the most serious defect, dubbed a "type two" crack, and every plane must be checked before it reaches 1,300 flights in service. Aviation sources said that type two cracks had not been discovered in every inspection to date, although they had been located in some checks.
The A380's biggest customer is Dubai-based Emirates, which operates 20 of the 525-seater jets, followed by Singapore Airlines with 15, Qantas with 12, Lufthansa eight, Air France six, Korean Air five and China Southern two. The repair bill includes covering the cost of the checks and compensation for removing aircraft from service and, if necessary, replacing cracked parts with new fittings. If serious cracks are detected, the flawed part is cut out and replaced by engineers.
EADS revealed on Thursday that 2011 sales rose 7% to €49.1bn from €45.7bn the year before, beating analysts' expectations of around €47.9bn. Full-year profit at the group, where Airbus is the biggest unit, grew 87% to just over €1bn.