Bloomberg News

Airbus Told to Swap Aluminum Rivets for Titanium on A380 Jumbo

February 15, 2012

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus SAS was told by European air safety authorities to swap some aluminum rivets on its A380 flagship for stronger titanium fasteners, less than a month after the company was forced to fix cracks on the jet’s wings.

According to a so-called airworthiness directive by the European Aviation Safety Agency today, six aluminum rivets used to join fuselage stringers, or stiff pieces of metal to which the aircraft is fastened, weren’t in compliance with certification requirements. The rivets were discovered in an engineering review, said EASA, which made no connection between the rivets and the hairline cracks found in the A380’s wings.

While the rivets would survive so-called limit load, which takes into account the maximum stresses likely to be experienced during flight, fatigue analysis showed the fasteners didn’t support the ultimate load standard that goes beyond what would be encountered in real life conditions.

“This condition, if not corrected, could lead to in-flight loss of the radome in case of rapid decompression, and could adversely affect the structural integrity of the airplane,” EASA said the directive. Airlines must replace the rivets within eight months, EASA said.

EASA spokesman Dominique Fouda didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment. Airbus didn’t immediately have a comment.

The A380 is operated by Emirates, Singapore Airways Ltd., Qantas, Air France KLM Group, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Korean Air Lines Co. and China Southern Co. The aircraft has two levels and typically seats about 550 passengers.

--Editor: Benedikt Kammel

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Rothman in Paris at aerothman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net


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