Breaking: Qatar Airways Grounds 13 A350s Due To Surface Issues

Breaking: Qatar Airways Grounds 13 A350s Due To Surface Issues

Qatar Airways has ordered the grounding of 13 of its Airbus A350 aircraft. The airline said that the fuselage surface beneath the paint was deteriorating at a rapid rate. The problem appears to have been identified when an aircraft travelled to Ireland earlier this year for a world cup paint job.

Qatar Airways’ Airbus A350 is an important part of their fleet. However, the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, has recently spoken out against the fleet, even threatening to halt additional A350 deliveries. The airline has now decided to put 13 of its A350 aircraft on the ground.

Commenting on the issue, an Airbus spokesperson told,

“As a major aircraft manufacturer, we are always in contact with and working with our clients. Those conversations are kept private. We have nothing more to say about our customer’s operations.”

What exactly is the problem?

13 of Qatar Airways’ Airbus A350 planes exhibit accelerated surface degradation beneath the paint scheme, according to the airline. The Airbus A350 has a composite fuselage, as contrast to older aircraft’s aluminium fuselages.

Qatar Airways claims that it has been working closely with the Qatari aviation regulator on the plane. The regulator has now issued “clear written directions” to ground the 13 planes involved in the problem. The plane will remain grounded until the cause of the degradation is determined and a permanent solution is found.

The narrative appears to have begun in November of 2020. The airline sent a four-year-old Airbus A350-900 to Shannon, Ireland, at the time. The IAC paint shop was supposed to apply a livery commemorating Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup next year.

The paint shop reportedly discovered fissures in the aircraft’s surface after the top coat of paint was scraped, though Airbus later emphasised that they were “superficial/cosmetic and only evident when the top coat of paint is stripped.”

The plane was brought to Toulouse in early January without a paint scheme on it so that it could be examined further. Since then, the plane has remained in Toulouse, and it appears that the same thing has happened to the other 12 planes.

Deliveries halted

Qatar Airways threatened to suspend taking delivery of the Airbus A350 at the beginning of June, though Al Baker said in an interview that the dispute wasn’t about paint jobs. Qatar Airways said on June 8th that further Airbus A350 deliveries would be halted. Since then, Akbar Al Baker has been tight-lipped about the specifics of the A350 problem.

Breaking: Qatar Airways

Until today Qatar Airways had stayed fairly tight lipped on the subject. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Al Baker declined to reveal the issue on a Flightplan webinar on July 21st, but he didn’t hold back on Airbus.

“Unfortunately, I am unable to go into specifics… [Airbus] seems oblivious to the fact that there is a severe problem with [the A350s] that we are experiencing. They’re just dithering and dragging their feet instead of getting down to business and solving the problem with their plane.”

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Cover Photo Credit: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying