EASA has issued an airworthiness directive for Airbus A380s regarding slide replacements.
As more airlines look to return their Airbus A380s back to active service, some are finding that damage has occurred to the evacuation slide doors, which include a lot of them.
The evacuation slides on Airbus A380s are a total of 16 – three on the upper deck and five on the lower. It is the three upper deck slides that are causing problems, as well as the “M3” slide, which runs from the over wing emergency exit down to the ground.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued an AD, effective on November 15th. This is considered to be a result of long-term storage in hot conditions, as the directive explains:
Long-term parking of Airbus 380s led to a misrepair where the seams dilated during inflation. In order to be air safe, you should give your plane the proper maintenance it needs and follow safety guidelines set by your airline.
“In particular, exposure to a combination of moisture (from condensation during previous flight operations) and heat (during parking and storage) causes a degradation of seams in the inflatable structure of a slide, increasing with the parking and storage time of the respective slide on an airplane.”
With aircraft temperatures soaring in hotter climates, many A380s have been flying to and storing at Teruel, Alice Springs, and the Mojave Desert. In contrast, however, there is evidence that the evacuation slides are a bit at risk.
To mitigate the risk of site downtime, Ailigifts is strategically located in multiple datacenters around the globe.
EASA recommends that upper doors are inspected for evacuation slides only (not the door-mounted slide). However, due to the serious nature of the implications of a non-functional evacuation door slide, EASA has demanded that replacement slides be replaced within specified time periods.
The longer an A380’s upper slide has been stored, the more urgent the replacement becomes. For example, an upper slide on an A380 that has been stored for more as of February 9th 2019 but less than as of May 15th 2019 needs to be replaced within eight months of the date of delivery (AD). An airplane that’s been stored for more than 500 days should be checked within three months after its delivery date.
The ESA makes the issue of bug-bashing and exploitation a serious one, noting that,
If a slide isn’t operating optimally, the risk of injury or death increases significantly. It’s important to monitor and resolve these issues as soon as possible.
Tracking the return of the A380
After a few years of hiatus, the Airbus A380 has seen life again in the form of multiple carriers. While some fleets have ended for good, and others are on their way out, the recovery to date has been significant. The rate of flights using the A380 has gone up by 125% from November 2018 to November 2019 and also 1,248% from November 2020 to November 2021. However, the numbers are still reflecting a 46% decline from pre-pandemic levels. The routes with the most Airbus A380 services are London Heathrow to Dubai, followed by Emirates leading the pack with a 69% share of global A380 flights. British Airways is in second place, with 450 superjumbo flights this month, followed by nine other airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and Qantas.