The Airbus A380 planes that must be inspected after cracks were discovered in their wings belong to Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air France, the European Aviation Safety Agency said Wednesday.
"In total 20 planes must be inspected, eight (that had carried out more than 1,800 flights) by Friday at the latest, the 12 others within six weeks," EASA spokesman Dominique Fouda told AFP.
"The most urgent inspections concern six planes from Singapore Airlines and two from Emirates," he said.
Among the 12 others, one plane belongs to Air France and another is a test plane belonging to Airbus.
EASA had on Friday recommended the checks after new cracks were discovered in the superjumbos' wings. A source close to the matter had earlier told AFP that 30 A380s were concerned.
"The goal of these inspections is to understand a little better the origin of these problems... This directive is aimed at having a better understanding of this phenomenon, which is not complete for the moment," Fouda said.
He refused to comment on theories that the cracks may be due to a premature launch of the aircraft.
"As long as the investigation is not over, we must not speculate," he said.
Singapore Airlines said on Saturday it had begun inspections of its A380s. A company spokesman told AFP Wednesday that "checks have been carried out on four aircraft and there were findings during each inspection."
One aircraft was repaired and was back in service while repairs were being carried out on the others, he said.
A spokeswoman for Emirates, which operates 20 A380s and has ordered another 70, said one of its aircraft had been inspected and another was in the process of being examined.
An Air France spokesman said the company, which operates six A380s, was in talks with Airbus about scheduling an inspection.
The A380 is the world's biggest passenger jet and a key product in Airbus's line-up as it battles its main rival US giant Boeing for the top spot in the world civil airliner industry.
The double-decker plane entered service in 2007 after years of technical delays. There are now 67 in service around the world and while they have never had a fatal accident there have been teething problems.
The plane carries more than 500 passengers or more than 800 if configured entirely in economy class.
by Hazel Ward Â© 2012 AFP
Date: Jan 25, 2012