Damage seen of A350 Aircrafts delivered by Airbus
PARIS: Qatar Airways took its $4 million-per-day feud with Airbus to social media on Friday, posting a video of the damaged exteriors of grounded A350 planes, which the carrier said highlighted "severe and valid safety issues."
The two companies have been at odds for months over paint deterioration and anti-lightning protection on long-haul planes, which Airbus admits needs to be addressed. A total of 21 of Qatar Airways' 53 A350s have been grounded as a result of the dispute.
It has also prompted Qatar Airways to exclude Airbus from a multi-billion-dollar deal to replace almost three dozen freighters, which is expected to go to rival Boeing and could help bolster ties with Washington in an upcoming visit.
Qatar Airways is pressing for compensation of $618 million plus $4 million a day and halted taking new A350 deliveries. Airbus has said it will fight the claim in full.
In the video lasting just over a minute and a half released on YouTube, Qatar Airways showed rows of defects on the skin of some of the A350s grounded by the country's regulator. Airbus had no immediate comment on the video.
The clip showed areas of peeling or missing paint, cracks and damage to anti-lightning protection, as well as what the airline described as patches of carbon-fibre that were exposed to moisture and potentially damaging ultra-violet light.
The lightweight carbon-fibre jetliner relies on metallic foil embedded beneath the paint to help lightning wash safely over the fuselage, which is less conductive than earlier metal.
Lightning strikes jetliners about once a year.
The video showed flakes of the copper-mesh anti-lightning system, which is supposed to be fixed to the plane with resin, coming loose when paint was teased away by a gloved hand.
The images echoed damage to A350s first revealed in pictures exclusively published in a Reuters investigation last November.
The investigation showed that at least five other airlines had reported A350 paint or skin flaws since 2016, well before Qatar raised concerns in November 2020 when an attempt to repaint a jet in World Cup livery exposed some 980 defects.
"We continue to strongly believe that Airbus must undertake a thorough investigation of this condition to conclusively establish its full root cause," Qatar Airways said.
Airbus has said that it is looking at changing the design of anti-lightning mesh for future A350s, but insists there is adequate backup lightning protection.
The question of whether a "root-cause analysis" exists is part of a UK court case due for a hearing in late April.
The jet video capped 24 hours of intense exposure for the usually secretive aviation world after Airbus took the rare step of revoking a separate Qatar order for smaller A321neos. Qatar Airways indicated it would fight the move, saying it was upholding all its current contracts.
Source: Peninsula Qatar
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