Airbus A380 superjumbo jets will be out of service for several weeks when they undergo permanent repairs to address wing cracks, the company says.
Airbus plans to introduce a permanent solution to the flaw late this year and to start delivering aircraft completely free of the vulnerability identified in L-shaped components inside the wings by 2014.
In the meantime, it is implementing interim repairs.
To carry out a permanent fix, airlines operating aircraft delivered before 2014 will be able to send in the aircraft for a standalone repair job taking an unspecified number of weeks or add the task to a regularly scheduled heavy maintenance visit.
"It is a process taking weeks depending on how the airline wants to carry out the job," an Airbus spokesman said.
Industry publication Flightglobal reported A380 operators face a 30,000 man-hour repair program to address the wing-crack issues. This would require eight weeks of downtime if done in one instalment, it said.
Aircraft are inspected and subjected to varying degrees of overhaul at regular milestones. The repair of wing components known as rib feet could take place during 'C' checks that happen every 18-24 months.
Any significant downtime could further fuel tensions between Airbus and A380 operators such as its leading buyer Emirates over calls for compensation.
Airbus has said repairs will be made under warranty without further adjustments for disruption or the idling of A380s, worth US$390 million (NZ$500m) at list prices.
Airbus has sold 253 A380s of which 72 had been delivered by end-April.
Airbus parent EADS has set aside 263 million euros to deal with the problem of cracks, a figure that could rise toward 500 million based on technical briefings last month.
The total of A380s in service or in the delivery pipeline that will have to be repaired before retrofitting becomes unnecessary is 120, a senior executive said last month.
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