PARIS — European aerospace giant EADS suffered another blow May 21 as it emerged that authorities ordered checks of one of its most popular Eurocopter models, the EC135, after cracks were found on a rotor.
EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., is already facing a substantial repair bill after cracks were found in the wings of some of its A380 superjumbo planes manufactured by another subsidiary, Airbus.
“Eurocopter is performing all necessary investigations and is following this matter with the highest priority,” a Eurocopter spokesman said. “First investigations have confirmed that flights with the EC135 remain safe.”
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a directive on May 17 calling for the checks after “a crack was detected on the lower hub-shaft flange of a main rotor hub shaft” on one of the helicopters during a regular inspection.
“The investigation is ongoing, and the cause of the cracking has not been determined yet,” the agency said. “This condition, if not detected, could lead to further crack propagation, possibly resulting in main rotor hub failure and consequent loss of the helicopter.”
Eurocopter is the world’s biggest civil helicopter manufacturer and the EC135 one of its most popular models, with more than 1,000 sold to about 270 clients.
EASA has called for operators of the EC135 and its military version, the EC635, to visually inspect rotors before each flight and replace the main rotor hub if cracks are detected.
The EC135 is a twin-engine helicopter widely used by police and ambulance services and for corporate transport.
Analysts said the discovery could eventually lead to substantial repair costs.
“The single fact that the EC135 is one of Eurocopter’s best-selling models increases the potential total cost of repairs,” said Christophe Menard, an analyst with Kepler Capital Markets.
Airbus said last week it had found a solution to tiny cracks that have appeared in the wings of its A380 superjumbo airliners, but the fix would cost it at least 260 million euros ($332 million), and potentially another 102 million euros by the end of the year.
The difficulties have not prevented EADS stock from rising, with UBS on May 21 recommending its clients buy EADS shares and the company’s stock up 1.2 percent to 28.14 euros in mid-afternoon trading here.
Financial news website Wansquare has reported that investment fund Carmignac had bought five million EADS shares since the start of the year, the equivalent of 0.6 percent of the company, making it EADS’s fifth-largest shareholder.
EADS last week said it had posted a net profit of 133 million euros in the first three months of 2012 and raised its forecast for full-year earnings per share from 1.65 euros to 1.85 euros.