Aircraft maker Airbus has been ordered to ground and check the wings of all A380 superjumbo planes currently in operation.
The move forced by The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) comes after Australian carrier Qantas Airways grounded one of its A380 aircraft after engineers found 36 wing cracks after the aircraft encountered severe turbulence.
The latest instruction from EASA extends checks to the entire global fleet of 68 A380 Airbus aircraft.
Last month EASA issued an airworthiness directive calling for “a detailed visual inspection” of the aircraft’s so-called “wing rib feet” – the metal brackets that connect the wing’s ribs to its skin.
The aircraft agency directed operators to have checks on planes which have had more than 1,300 takeoffs and landings. This applied to 20 A380 aircraft currently in operation, with Quantas Airways discovering one of their Airbus A380 passenger jets had cracks in key wing components.
Airbus aircraft wings, pylons and fuel systems are made at the company’s factories in Broughton, Wales and Filton, Bristol.
Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said: “It is welcome that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is calling for checks on all Airbus A380 as safety has to be the biggest priority for all airlines.
“It is important to note that these cracks are very small and will be monitored by the airlines. They are unlikely to affect aircraft operation.
“Airlines approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) have very strict regulations and require there to be rigorous inspection procedures so an aircraft would not be allowed to fly unless it was deemed to be fully airworthy by the authority or their delegates.”