Evacuation slides on Airbus superjumbo claimed to be faulty

Business Materials 9 February 2008 21:11 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- Inflatable slides on the Airbus A380 require repairs only months after the first of the giant planes entered service, the German weekly magazine Stern said Saturday.

Airbus customers were quoted as saying that each plane's entire complement of 16 slides had to be fixed because the gas cartridges to inflate them were unreliable. It said an Airbus spokeswoman had confirmed the recall.

As the double-decker plane is so huge, some of the slides, designed for use during an emergency escape from the jet, are 20 metres long and have to be inflated by a pyrotechnical charge, similar to that used in car airbags.

It had been discovered that the chemicals in the charge decayed, meaning they would no longer work after a certain time, Stern said in its online edition. The cartridges had been supplied by BF Goodrich.

Regulations require big jets to have means available for all occupants to leave within 90 seconds.

The slides can also be used as liferafts, if an airliner lands on water.

On smaller planes, the slides are inflated with compressed air, but a new technology was needed on the A380 because of its size, Stern said. Replacing the charges with a new design meant that every single slide had to be removed and unfolded, then put back.