During one of the regular checks on one of its Airbus A350 aircraft, Qatar Airways found unspecified damage. This led to the decision to withdraw the type from active service and suspend deliveries of the aircraft until a source cause can be determined and a solution implemented. In a press release, the Qatari airline reported that it continues to assess the condition of its fleet.
Qatar said an “accelerated deterioration” has been observed on the surface of the fuselage, under the paint.
For this reason, and following the instructions of the nation’s aviation regulatory body, the decision was made to ground thirteen aircraft. They will be removed from active service until the root cause is established and a repair plan is designed.
Qatar has, between the 900 and 1000 versions, 53 aircraft in its fleet. The airline has more on order with the Toulouse, France-based airplane manufacturer, making its total order of 76 aircraft, the most of any airline worldwide.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “We sincerely hope that Airbus treats this matter with the attention it requires. Qatar Airways expects Airbus to have established the root cause and permanently corrected the underlying condition to the satisfaction of Qatar Airways and our regulator before we take delivery of any further A350 aircraft.”
The airline informed that it is cooperating with the main A350 lessors in the world, which have already begun to carry out inspections on their aircraft.
Qatar Airways has already started work to bring its Airbus A330 fleet into service, seeking to offset part of the impact of this announcement.
Qatar Airways’ decision to ground the aircraft raised questions about the A350’s carbon composite fuselage, designed to make the twin-aisle aircraft lighter and cheaper to operate by burning less jet fuel.
Qatar Airways said it wouldn’t take any more A350s unless the problem was fixed.
More than half of the airline’s fleet is made up of the mid-sized but long-range US-made Boeing 787 and French-built Airbus A350.
The airline will be the crucial carrier for fans attending the upcoming FIFA 2022 World Cup in this country.
“We do not comment on our customers’ operations. As a leading aircraft manufacturer, we are always in talks with our customers. Those talks we keep confidential,” Airbus said in a statement.