Tiny cracks discovered in the wings of Airbus superjumbo A380 planes can be easily repaired and pose no danger, the aircraft's manufacturer said on Wednesday.

"/> Tiny cracks discovered in the wings of Airbus superjumbo A380 planes can be easily repaired and pose no danger, the aircraft's manufacturer said on Wednesday.

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AIRBUS

Airbus says A380 wing cracks pose no danger

Tiny cracks discovered in the wings of Airbus superjumbo A380 planes can be easily repaired and pose no danger, the aircraft's manufacturer said on Wednesday.

Airbus says A380 wing cracks pose no danger
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Airbus’ statement came the same day the European Aviation Safety Agency said 20 of the aircraft must be inspected after cracks were found in the wings of Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air France planes.

“This is not a fatigue cracking problem,” said Tom Williams, a vice-president with Airbus, blaming the cracks on design and manufacturing issues. “The cracks do not compromise the airworthiness of the aircraft.”

Dominique Fouda, a spokesman with the European air safety agency, said eight planes must be fully inspected by Friday and the remaining 12 within six weeks.

“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.

A source close to the matter had earlier told AFP that 30 A380s were the subject of concern.

“The goal of these inspections is to understand a little better the origin of these problems,” Fouda said. “This directive is aimed at having a better understanding of this phenomenon, which is not complete for the moment.”

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 Saturday it had begun inspections of its A380s. By Wednesday, checks had 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, a spokesman 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.


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TAXI

Paris aims to beat Olympic traffic with flying taxis

Paris aims to give visitors to the 2024 Paris Olympics a flying start by offering airborne taxis to tournament sites straight from the airport.

Paris aims to beat Olympic traffic with flying taxis
An Airbus image showing what the taxis might look like. Photo: Airbus
Arrivals in the City of Light currently face an hour-long haul by train or bus into town from Charles de Gaulle airport to the north of Paris.
   
But if Aeroports de Paris (ADP), Airbus and the RATP regional transport have their way passengers, right after their jets have taxied to a halt on the runway, will be able to take to the air once again with a self-flying urban taxi of the future.
   
The firms used this past week's Paris Air Show to say the Olympics afforded the perfect opportunity to bring into service futuristic Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) machines, and that they would launch a feasibility study.
   
“In 2010, for the first time, more than half of humanity was living in urban zones and we think we shall surpass 60 percent by 2030,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.
   
The time had now come to vault up to “the third dimension” of local commutes — air, he said.
 
“If we have the conviction that in the next five, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years low altitude is a space to be conquered we have to put in place the conditions today,” said ADP Group's executive director general Edward Arkwright.
   
VTOL converts are already sprouting in number as the world looks to move beyond — or rather, above — today's saturated motorways and growing environmental concerns.
   
Back on the ground, the view has been muddied by a delay beyond the Games, to 2025, of the express fast train designed to cut congestion and travel time between Charles de Gaulle airport and the city centre. 
   
For aircraft manufacturer Airbus, airport manager ADP and RATP, which manages Parisian public transport services, the Games are a chance to showcase French savoir-faire in urban mobility.
 
Multitude of projects
 
ADP has until the end of the year to choose a site for a “Vertiport” capable of hosting taxis from one of 10 aerodromes in the region around Paris.
   
The idea is to have the venue ready in 18 months, requiring infrastructure investment of some ten million euros ($11.3 million), says Arkwright. He adds the project will test out the link “via an existing helicopter corridor”.
   
Ideally, the service would see the taxis take off every six minutes.
   
In order to make VTOL a reality by 2024, ADP is working alongside Airbus, which has for some years been involved in full electric propulsion urban mobility schemes.
   
The manufacturer already has two prototype models — the single-seater “Vahana” and the four-seater variant “CityAirbus”.
   
Faury explained that “the two projects will converge towards a vehicle that will respond to first cases of use.”
   
“This partnership is a unique opportunity to develop technological solutions, a product, a regulatory framework, an economic model,” Faury added.
 
'Important stage'
 
“This project reduces constraints not only in terms of infrastructure but also concerning air traffic as it involves experimenting in a specific (air) corridor,” said Jean-Louis Rassineux, head of aeronautics and defence issues for Deloitte. “It is large scale rollout which is going to be complicated,” Rassineux told AFP.
   
Along with required progress on battery power and anti-collision detection he said there were “constraints regarding compatibility and traffic regulation.” 
   
But there is also the issue of the extent to which the concept will gain widespread public acceptance.
   
Rassineux warned there would need to be “security levels as stringent as those for air traffic” as well as “real value added to existing transport” systems.
   
Deloitte estimates the size of the airborne taxi market at some $17 billion for the United States alone through to 2040.
   
Yet “there remains some way to go before a flying vehicle becomes integrated into urban transport,” cautioned France's transport minister, Elisabeth Borne.
   
Borne nonetheless sees moves towards creating an embryonic service in time for the 2024 games as “one of the important stages” towards “the emergence of a complete transport offering” which would be “integrated and which respects the environment”.  
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