(Bloomberg) -- Airbus SE identified possible fixes for paint and surface issues with its A350 widebody jet that led to a rift with major customer Qatar Airways.
One option under consideration is changing the type of copper foil used for the lightning-conductor layer between the paint and the carbon-fiber structure of the A350’s fuselage, Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said Monday.
Using perforated copper foil instead of the current expanded copper foil is one possibility as Airbus works with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, on solutions, Schaffrath said Monday.
“Some dimesions of the issue are still being investigated,” Schaffrath said. “We’re also addressing the root causes as part of continuous improvement so we will install solutions going forward.”
The surface problems arise from the A350’s structure being built out of lightweight composite materials. These don’t expand or contract with changes in temperature, as do paint and aluminum, which is typically used to build the aircraft’s shell. The layer of copper is added to the A350 to provide a electrical conductivity in case of a lightning strike.
The imperfections are most pronounced with major temperature changes, Schaffrath said. He declined to comment on a Reuters report that at least five other airlines besides Qatar Airways have raised concerns about paint and surface flaws since the A350 entered service.
The dust-up with Qatar Airways surfaced in May, when Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in May that the airline would not take any further deliveries of the A350 until the paint issue was resolved. He said in October that Qatar’s aviation regulator had grounded 16 A350s, adding that more planes were showing accelerated paint deterioration.
The five other carriers include Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair Oyj, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Etihad Airways and Air France, acting as maintenance provider for Air Caraibes, Reuters reported, citing documents, company statements and people with knowledge of the matter.
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