Airbus chief executive Tom Enders on Wednesday said he ordered an internal investigation into how the company allowed wing cracks to develop on its flagship A380 passenger jet, acting to draw a line under weeks of embarrassing publicity for the world’s largest planemaker.
Enders said that the world’s largest jetliner was safe to fly as engineers repair hairline cracks in the wings. “We made a little mistake here and we are repairing it as quickly as possible. This plane is absolutely safe to fly.”
“We are taking lessons from the A380 programme for the A350 programme,” he said, referring to a new mid-sized jetliner designed to compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
“We have a thorough investigation underway on how we could make these mistakes in the first place and to eradicate the sources of the mistakes,” he said.
China and other Asia-Pacific nations will take delivery of 9,370 passenger jets over the next 20 years, valued at $1.3 trillion.
The airshow has been buzzing with talk about mishaps at world’s dominant planemakers.
Boeing said this month it found a process called “delamination” on part of the rear fuselage of its carbon-composite 787 Dreamliner, a red flag somewhat akin to the cracking on a metal structure, but harder to detect.
The company has said it is carrying out inspections and has worked out how to fix the aircraft waiting to be delivered.
Mark Jenks, vice president of 787-9 development at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said customers understood the problem was “straightforward”. “It’s more of a big issue in press conferences.”
The Dreamliner problems will provide little relief to Airbus as its A350 is also being built of carbon materials.