Singapore Airlines plans to modify the doors across its entire fleet of Airbus A380s to address a micro crack issue that first came to light in January 2014 when a SIA A380 was forced to make an emergency landing in Azerbaijan due to a loss of cabin pressure.
“SIA has been working closely with Airbus on the incorporation of door retrofit modifications which have started earlier this year on all our existing 19 A380 aircraft,” VP public relations, Americas James Boyd tells RGN.
He declined to discuss the cost associated with this fix, and whether Airbus or SIA will shoulder the burden, saying, “The cost associated is a commercial matter to be discussed between Airbus and SIA.”
Prior to the SIA A380 incident, Airbus was already doing work on an A380 fatigue model in Dresden, Germany, where it discovered door fatigue earlier than anticipated. Company executive VP programs Tom Williams previously explained that Airbus was particularly concerned about the cover plate – the strip of metal that goes across the top of the door. With respect to SIA, “we saw that that piece of metal went into a resonance, which is a high frequency aerodynamic resonance. And that resulted in a tearing back of a piece of the door,” he said.
In January Airbus issued an All Operators Texel (AOT) outlining a series of inspections for A380 operators. Airbus also began working on a fix, which it later clarified would require door cover plates and seals to be replaced.
It’s not immediately clear if all A380 operators will follow SIA’s approach and implement the fix fleet-wide. An Airbus spokesman notes that, as outlined by the AOT, operators can either a) continue to undertake inspections according to the intervals specified, or b) implement ‘terminating action’ (ie a ‘final fix’) at a time that suits them – after which there will be no further need for the inspections referred to in (a).
Meanwhile, reports continue to surface of door noise issues on various airlines. On the popular FlyerTalk forum, a frequent flyer recently made the following observation:
“On Thursday I flew between LAX-SYD on a QF A380 and during the climb I heard a very loud droning/buzzing noise from the door behind me, which I assume was the door’s seal as the aircraft pressurized. I guessed this as I have been following the stories in the past of both Emirates and Singapore Airlines A380s having door issues. One of the crew also noticed the noise and said, ‘should we be worried?’ to which I replied, ‘I doubt it probably just a seal and the flight crew would notice any cabin altitude issues on their gauges.’ The very same noise came from the same door during descent into Sydney.”