Tue, Oct 21, 2003
Fuselage Cracking a Concern
Though seemingly unrelated to the
two-year-ago crash of Flight 587 over Queens (NY), the question of
structural integrity of large airliners, particularly large
composite structures in such aircraft, has long been an item of
The FAA has issued a new Airworthiness Directive, 2003-21-06,
that covers "certain Airbus Model A330-301, -321, -322, -341, and
-342 airplanes." The problem addressed is, "fatigue cracking of the
rear fuselage, which could result in reduced structural integrity
of the airplane."
While there is no grounding order or other 'panic button'
verbage in the order, it is plain that the FAA has found something
that needs attention. The FAA says that, "The Direction Generale de
l'Aviation Civile (DGAC), which is the airworthiness authority for
France, notified the FAA that an unsafe condition may exist on
certain Airbus Model A330-301, -321, -322, -341, and -342
airplanes. The DGAC advises that, during fatigue testing, after
57,457 simulated flights, a crack initiated and propagated in the
rear fuselage on the right-hand side of the airplane in the web of
frame 65 at stringer 27, at the first lower rivet row of the
cross-beam attach fitting. Such cracking, if not corrected, could
result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane."
Apparently it's not a new problem; Airbus has issued
a Service Bulletin on the subject, A330-53-3059, Revision 01,
dated October 15, 1997.
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