In the latest chapter of its dispute with Airbus, Qatar Airways has claimed that defects on the airline’s several Airbus A350s could cause fuel tanks to ignite, according to legal files seen by Bloomberg.
The Doha-based carrier has raised concerns that flaws on the surface of the A350 fuselage could attract pollutants, such as salt or hydraulic fluids, and damage the aircraft’s lightning protection.
In late 2021, Qatar Airways sued Airbus over fuselage surface deterioration on its A350s, seeking more than $600 million in compensation. Qatar Airways, which has 53 A350s in its fleet, claims it had to remove a total of 22 aircraft from the flight roster.
In a further development, Qatar Airways regrets to advise that its regulator, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) has now revoked the Airworthiness Review Certificate in respect of an additional A350 aircraft resulting in a total of 22 Airbus A350 aircraft now grounded.— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) February 28, 2022
In retaliation, Airbus attempted to terminate a separate contract to deliver 50 A321neo aircraft that Qatar Airways had on order. However, this decision was frozen by a British court, pending the judge’s decision due in April 2022.
In the court filing, Qatar Airways disclosed that Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Air France, and Finnair had reported the same issue with the aircraft.
A Reuters investigation confirmed that the issue Qatar Airways has with the A350 is not an isolated case. A private maintenance message board, used by Airbus and A350 operators and reviewed by Reuters, showed that Finnair had raised concerns over paint as early as 2016, and reported in October 2019 that surface damage had spread to the anti-lightning mesh below.