Recent reports indicate that Airbus has altered the design of the A350 wide-body passenger aircraft’s tail section. The work is being done despite a $2 billion lawsuit filed by Qatar Airways against the aircraft manufacturer for an allegedly faulty design that led to surface damage on some of the airline’s planes.
According to Airbus, the perforated copper foil will replace expanded copper foil, a material installed between the fuselage and the paint to guard against lightning strikes.
According to Reuters, an Airbus spokesperson said, “Perforated copper foil is being used on rear-section parts on aircraft delivered from the end of 2022.”
On 19 January 2023, a preliminary hearing was held in London.
Airbus’s decision to begin work on the adoption of the revised A350 design is “significant” to the ongoing lawsuit, according to Judge David Waksman of London’s High Court.
In late 2021, Qatar Airways and Airbus began their dispute about the surface deterioration on A350 planes and related safety issues. The airline had hoped to earn roughly $600 million in compensation for the A350s’ early fuselage surface degradation. The airline paid particular attention to the peeling paint, which revealed deterioration and openings in the aircraft’s metallic underlayer designed to protect it from lightning strikes.
Airbus sought to cancel the supply of 50 A321neo planes to Qatar Airways in reaction to the disagreement.
However, a court eventually considered the surface erosion issue.
Airbus won a court ruling in April 2022 that prevented it from delivering A321neo planes to Qatar.
The court sided with Airbus and authorised the company to sell the A350s to other customers, even though Qatar Airways had refused to accept delivery of some of them because the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had certified the planes as safe to fly.
According to the European Aviation Safety Agency, the A350 planes’ paint and surface degradation do not represent a safety risk.
The London High Court decided in May 2022 that the trial would take place in June 2023 using expedited procedures.