Cracks in wings grounds Qantas A380
Australia's Qantas removed one of its Airbus A380 superjumbos from service on Wednesday after discovering "minor cracks" in its wings, but said that there was no risk to flight safety.
The Australian airline also stressed that it was not the "type two" cracking found across the global A380 fleet last month which was "now the subject of a European airworthiness directive."
"To date, type two cracking has not been found on Qantas aircraft," a Qantas spokeswoman said.
The small cracking, on "some wing rib feet", was discovered during an extra round of precautionary checks requested by Airbus on the Qantas superjumbo after it hit severe turbulence over India in January.
Seven passengers were injured and four required hospital treatment in Singapore following the incident.
"This cracking is not related to the turbulence, or specific to Qantas, but is traced back to a manufacturing issue," the Qantas spokeswoman said.
"Airbus has confirmed that it has no effect on flight safety."
Qantas, which has 12 A380s in its fleet, said an "inspection and repair regime has been developed" in conjunction with Airbus and it expected the jet in question to return to service within a week.
"We will follow Airbus instructions on any further action that may be required," the spokeswoman said.
It is the second Qantas A380 to be found with wing rib cracks, with a superjumbo involved in a dramatic mid-air engine explosion over Indonesia in November 2010 also suffering cracking.
The European Aviation Safety Agency last month ordered the inspection of 20 A380s after cracks were found in the wings of Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air France planes.
Toulouse-based Airbus, the main subsidiary of aerospace giant EADS, has said the tiny cracks can be easily fixed and pose no safety risks.
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.