H. Gousse  /  AP file
The A380, shown here in January during its flight test program, is expected to enter into commercial service by the end of 2006.
updated 2/17/2006 11:29:27 AM ET 2006-02-17T16:29:27

The Airbus A380 superjumbo will enter service later this year as scheduled despite the rupture of a wing during ground tests, the European aircraft maker said Friday.

Airbus spokeswoman Barbara Kracht said the wings of the 555-seater may require “refinements at certain points” as a result of the fracture, which happened Tuesday during ground testing in Toulouse.

“It should have no impact on the certification and delivery,” Kracht said.

Before certifying an airliner for commercial service, aviation authorities set its “limit loads” — the maximum strain each part is likely to be placed under during extreme turbulence or hard landings. New planes are required to resist loads of 1.5 times the limit.

The A380 wing had been bent upward by 24.3 feet at the tip, reaching 1.45 times its limit load — or 3.3 percent short of target — when the rupture appeared in a section between the two engines, Kracht said.

Airbus engineers and officials from the European Aviation Safety Agency and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will decide what if any modifications are required, she said. “We will need to find out from the data what is really needed, but it’s certainly not a redesign of the wing.”

The A380 is due to enter into service with Singapore Airlines Ltd. by the end of the year — already six months behind its original schedule.

The A380 will overtake The Boeing Co.’s 747 as the world’s largest commercial jet when it enters service. Boeing announced late last year that it is launching the 747-8, a more fuel-efficient version of the double-decker plane, to compete with the A380.

Shares in Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. rose 1.5 percent to 31.58 euros ($37.45) by early afternoon on Euronext after sinking 1.2 percent earlier in the session.

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