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Airbus profits hit by wing problems

Airbus parent company EADS said its first quarter earnings were hammered by a 158 million euro (£119 million) charge to fix problematic wing parts on its flagship A380 superjumbo.

EADS said the charge to fix the so-called "wing rib feet" - the metal brackets that connect the wing's ribs to its skin - on all the A380s in service had left first quarter profit at 133 million euro (£105 million).

That is still well above the 12 million euro (£9.5 million) the company lost in the same period last year due to an accounting change.

EADS said the cost of fixing the problem will slow its efforts to improve the A380 programme's profitability, and makes its target of delivering 30 of the aircraft this year "more challenging".

Airbus delivered four of the massive 500-seat A380s in the first quarter, bringing the total in service to 71, with seven different airlines.

Cracks were first discovered on some of Singapore Airlines' aircraft last year. Airbus has said the problem does not pose a safety risk.

In February, Europe's air safety authority EASA extended an order to inspect the aircraft's wings to the entire global fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos.

EADS is a European holding company, with joint French-German management and based in Holland, that also encompasses Eurocopter helicopters, Astrium satellites and Cassidian defence electronics businesses among other divisions.

Airbus expects to deliver around 570 aircraft in 2012, up from 534 last year, while expanding its order book.

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