Although not naming the customer directly, Qatar Airways is the customer that has been driving this issue which has resulted in a honeycomb-like structure designed to absorb lightning strikes being exposed due to what is being described as non-structural surface degradation.
As a result, the Qatari regulator ordered Qatar Airways to ground some of its Airbus A350 aircraft and the same degradation has also been reported by Finnair, Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific.
Airbus says that Safety is its top priority and in a statement said: “The surface paint-related findings have been thoroughly assessed by Airbus and confirmed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as having no airworthiness impact on the A350 fleet.
“The attempt by this customer to misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue represents a threat to the international protocols on safety matters.
“While Airbus regrets the need to follow such a path, it has become necessary to defend its position and reputation. Airbus has worked actively with its customers in order to minimise the impact and any inconvenience caused by this in-service surface degradation on the aircraft. These solutions have all been dismissed by the above-mentioned customer without legitimate justification.”
The legal assessment will provide a definitive definition of the problem and provide a way for the airframer and the airline to resolve the issue.