The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) to address a potential failure of the main landing gear door (MLGD) on the Airbus A350-900.
EASA issued the directive following the discovery of index washers at MLGD hinges #1 (forward) and #3 (rear) being inverted in production, meaning that the forward hinges were fitted in place of the rear hinges and vice-versa. According to the agency, if the condition is not corrected, it “could lead to reduced structural integrity of the MLGD hinge fittings, possibly resulting in in-flight loss of a MLGD”.
As a result, the doors of the main landing gear could fall to the ground and injure people below.
Airbus issued its own Service Bulletin (SB), namely A350-52-P048, providing inspection and replacement parts of the affected parts, while the AD itself “requires a one-time detailed inspection (DET) of each affected part and, depending on findings, replacement”.
The EASA’s directive requires operators of the Airbus A350-900 to complete a DET within the compliance time. For Group 1 aircraft, that means before exceeding 9,600 flight cycles (FC) or 46,900 flight hours (FH), whichever occurs soonest since the aircraft’s manufacturing date. Meanwhile, operators of Group 2 aircraft must complete the inspection before exceeding 16,800 FC or 82,750, whichever occurs soonest since the aircraft’s manufacturing date.
Group 1 and Group 2 aircraft are identified by having the Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) as Configuration 001 and Configuration 002 in the SB, respectively.
Following an inspection, if the affected parts are found not to have been correctly installed, airlines will need to replace them within 500 FC or 3,500 FH, whichever occurs first.
The AD is a final ruling. Only a single party commented on the directive, namely Qatar Airways, which indicated there was no way for operators “verify/cross-examine the accuracy of the effectivity within the ISB or to justify the exclusion of certain MSNs”. Qatar Airways’ own A350-900s, namely A7-AMK and A7-AML were excluded from the SB. According to the airline, Airbus provided feedback that this condition was “corrected before delivery and that it is in-line with Airbus Internal documents”.
EASA partially agreed, indicating that Airbus will revise the SB A350-52-P048 without making changes to the AD.
According to ch-aviation.com data, the highest FH number relates to a Qatar Airways A350-900 at 30,001 FHs. However, the aircraft, registered as A7-ALA, is currently stored at Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH) where it has been since June 2021. Meanwhile, Vietnam Airlines’ A350-900, registered as VN-A886, has 6,342 FCs.