Qatar Airways published a video on social media on Friday of the scarred exterior of grounded A350 jets that the airline said underscored “serious and legitimate safety concerns”.
An undated image shows what appears to be paint peeling, cracking and exposed expanded copper foil on the fuselage of a Qatar Airways A350 aircraft [File: Edgar Su/Reuters]
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency independently assessed the issue and found no safety concerns.
“There is no reasonable or rational basis” for Qatari regulators to have grounded the A350s operated by Qatar Airways, Airbus said in documents prepared for a London court hearing on Thursday.
It accused Qatar Airways of instigating the grounding as it was in its own financial interest to keep the aircraft on the ground in light of the coronavirus pandemic collapse in demand for air travel.
Qatar Airways rejected the claims in a statement on Friday.
“These defects are not superficial and one of the defects causes the aircraft’s lightning protection system to be exposed and damaged,” it said. “We continue to urge Airbus to undertake a satisfactory root cause analysis into the cause of the defects.”
An investigation by Reuters news agency showed at least five other airlines reported A350 paint or skin flaws since 2016, well before Qatar raised concerns in November 2020 when an attempt to repaint a jet in World Cup livery exposed some 980 defects.
Airbus has said it is looking at changing the design of anti-lightning mesh for future A350s, but insisted there is adequate backup lightning protection. It says Qatar is undermining global protocols by seeking leverage over safety.