Airbus has acknowledged that the A350’s surface deterioration issues have affected other customers.
Airbus indicated that it is a non-structural problem caused by the different thermal properties of the A350’s multi-component carbon shell, the outer coating and the copper lightning protection layer sandwiched between them, each expanding and contracting at a different rate with temperature fluctuations, which can be severe. In Doha, the average high temperature is 42°C in July.
Qatar Airways says the defective A350 coating has cracked the surfaces of multiple components
In a telephone call to reporters Thursday, Philip Mahon, Executive Vice President of Airbus, said that Qatar Airways had taken a first step towards initiating legal action, which led to the application of the dispute settlement provisions contained in the sales contract.
Solutions offered to Qatar Airways range from minor paint repairs to complete aircraft repainting if necessary.
“We are committed to the product,” Mahon said. “We want to re-establish relations with Qatar.”
A Qatar Airways spokesperson declined to comment.
Airbus said it was studying long-term solutions to the issue of surface degradation, including replacing expanded copper foil with a different material called perforated copper foil on future aircraft.
The European Aviation Safety Agency backed Airbus over safety claims this week, but nonetheless issued a proposed airworthiness bulletin on another issue related to the A350, after missing copper foil from several points in the wings.
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