The struggle between Qatar Airways and Airbus over the A350’s fuselage paint is attracting wider circles. Lufthansa and other airlines are said to have had problems before.
First was 13So far, Qatar Airways has ground 20 of its 53 Airbus A350 aircraft. The airline cites instructions from its aviation authority and defects in the fuselage coating. In October, CEO Akbar al-Baker reported cracks in the composite materials and a deterioration in lightning protection.
Airbus now told the news agency Reuters, which first published photos of the damage, there were some problems with “premature surface erosion”. In some cases, this also revealed the network architecture used for lightning protection. According to Reuters informants, Qatar Airways and at least one other airline have reported damage to the same network. This, in turn, exposed the structure underneath to the effects of the weather.
Finnair already had its first problems in 2016
The European aircraft manufacturer also stated that the A350 had adequate protection and that issues with the grille structure had been resolved. In addition, Airbus noted that some airlines are exposed to greater temperature fluctuations. However, maintenance documents available to Reuters show that the airline from the desert state of Qatar is not the first to run into problems.
Accordingly, Finnair first raised concerns about the coating in 2016 and then reported in 2019 that damage had spread to the network topology. “We can confirm that we have had some issues with the paint job on the A350, and we are working with Airbus to resolve those issues,” a Finnair spokesperson said. It is an unfortunate problem but it is purely cosmetic.
Lufthansa was also affected
Cathay Pacific complained of paint problems early after delivery. Hong Kong Airlines told Reuters that some of its A350s had “experienced some cosmetic deterioration”. But this has been fully investigated and there is no impact on safety.
According to the maintenance documents that the news agency had In 2017, Lufthansa also had paint peeling problems. Some sites are said to have spanned over a square metre. However, the German airline only talks about occasional cosmetic defects that have been remedied and have never posed a safety risk.
The union is out of sight
Etihad Airways and Air France, as service provider to Air Caraibes, also complained about paint damage. The golf company and France’s national airline do not comment on this. Air Caraibes said it “doesn’t have major paint problems,” particularly for safety.
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