Airbus defines permanent fix for A380 rib support crack issue

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Airbus has defined a permanent fix for cracks in rib support brackets on A380 aircraft, but still expects the programme to break even by the beginning of 2015.

"This final retrofit fix is more complex than initially anticipated in March; therefore, the group updated the cost for the retrofit solution leading to an additional charge of €158 million ($200 million) in the first quarter," Airbus parent EADS said in its first quarter results statement.

"This charge is now treated as a one-off since the anticipated retrofit costs go beyond the recurring warranty levels," it adds.

Nonetheless, implementation of the fix will dent improving earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for the A380 programme in 2012 and 2013.

EADS believes Airbus can still deliver 30 A380s this year, although it admits this is "becoming more challenging with a more back-loaded delivery pattern" for the year 2012. The company delivered just four aircraft in the first quarter, which means it needs to deliver the remaining 26 by the end of the year.

"General discussions are on-going with customers," it says. "However, this should not jeopardise the reaching of break-even by the beginning of 2015."

At the 2011 Paris air show, EADS chief executive Louis Gallois said Airbus would start breaking even on the A380 in 2014-2015.

At the end of March, there were 71 A380s in service globally.