Vietnam Grounds Five Airbus Planes

HANOI, Vietnam_Vietnam has temporarily grounded five Airbus planes to fix defects, an industry executive said Friday.

Pham Ngoc Minh, deputy director general of state carrier Vietnam Airlines, said the company on Thursday stopped flying four Airbus planes. Pacific Airlines also grounded one Airbus plane, he said. Minh said Europe-based Joint Aviation Authorities officials informed him they were asking all airlines to inspect their planes.

Minh said the defect rested with the aircraft's landing gear. He did not provide any additional details.

Barbara Kracht, spokeswoman for Toulouse, France-based Airbus, said all airlines were asked to inspect their planes after a hairline crack was found in the wing of an older A320 owned by an airline she declined to name. As a precaution, all airlines were asked this week to inspect their A320 planes.

She denied the call for inspections was prompted by anything related to the aircraft's landing gear.

"It's nothing uncommon in the aviation industry," she said. "This is something that basically happens on all planes, everyone knows this is something that can happen after a number of flight cycles."

Minh said a team of Airbus experts started working on the planes Friday and were expected to finish on April 18.

Vietnam Airlines now operates 16 Airbus planes. Minh said no problems were found with the five newer planes, but the airline will replace the part on all 11 older planes.

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