Qantas grounds A380 passenger jets following detection of cracks in wing parts

Australia's largest carrier, Qantas Airways Ltd, suspended use of one of its Airbus SAS A380 passenger jets for a week following detection of cracks in wing parts.

The aircraft has been grounded since 5 February, spokesman Thomas Woodward told Bloomberg over phone today. The plane, named Charles Kingsford Smith, had flown between 20 and 30 times since the cracks were detected in routine checks by the airline, following severe turbulence on a flight from London to Singapore, he said.

"We will follow Airbus' instructions on any further action that may be required," Woodward said in a separate e-mailed statement. "We expect the aircraft to be back in service within a week."

The development follows Europe's air safety regulator ordering checks last month of about a third of the global A380 fleet, on reports of cracking in the wing rib feet of jets flown by Qantas and Singapore Airlines. According to France-based Airbus, the plane, the world's largest commercial aircraft, was safe to fly.

The Charles Kingsford Smith, one of 12 in the carrier's fleet, was grounded following Airbus calling for additional checks last week, on data sent by the Sydney-based airline after an initial inspection, according to Woodward.

The 36 small fissures detected on the plane, so-called "type two" cracks that led to the European regulator's order, were quite similar to cracking traced to manufacturing defects earlier detected in a separate Qantas A380, the Nancy Bird Walton, Woodward said.