FRANKFURT, GERMANY — Safety regulators have directed that inspections for potential cracks near the wing spars of Airbus A380s take into consideration the length of time these aircraft have been stored.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has revised its guidelines for setting inspection intervals for the areas in question, particularly the flanges between certain ribs on the front and rear spars.

The issue first emerged in 2019 and was originally pertinent to older A380 airframes. However, EASA subsequently extended the inspection procedure to all A380s and lessened the time between inspections. The Covid-19 pandemic, which led to an air transport crisis, saw many carriers retire their A380s temporarily, placing them in storage. However, the demand for capacity has encouraged several operators to reintroduce the double-deck type to service.

"Further inspection results prompted an analysis that determined the threshold for [spar] inspection must rely on more than just the wing's age," EASA explained. "The severity of [outer rear spar] findings showed a correlation with the length of time an [aircraft] is grounded [parked or stored] in severe environmental conditions."

EASA states that this finding implies a need for operators to factor in the time on ground when scheduling inspections. As a result, the agency has updated an airworthiness directive for A380 wing checks, directing operators to calculate this time-on-ground and, based on this, determine appropriate compliance times for inspection.