Qatar Airways has commenced proceedings in a UK court against aircraft maker Airbus in a bid to resolve a dispute over skin flaws on A350 passenger jets, bringing the two sides closer to a rare legal showdown over aviation safety.
Reuters report that the companies have been locked in a row for months over damage, including blistered paint and corrosion to a sub-layer of lightning protection, which Qatar Airways says has now led to the grounding of 21 A350 jets by its domestic regulator.
Airbus insists the carbon-composite passenger jets are safe to fly despite some “surface degradation,” while Qatar Airways says it is too early to say whether safety has been compromised.
The dispute came to a head last week when Airbus, in what experts called an unprecedented move, accused the Gulf airline of misrepresenting the problem as a safety issue and threatened to call for an independent legal assessment.
On Monday, Qatar Airways hit back, saying it had taken its complaint against Airbus to the High Court in London.
“We have sadly failed in all our attempts to reach a constructive solution with Airbus in relation to the accelerated surface degradation condition adversely impacting the Airbus A350 aircraft, Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts.” The Airline said in a statement.
According to the statement, Airbus has confirmed it had received a formal legal claim and intends to vigorously defend its position.
A spokesman from the company earlier said it had found the cause of the problem and was working with customers and Europe’s safety regulator, which has said it has not identified a safety issue.
Qatar Airways denies that the surface flaws – which witnesses say have left some of the jets with a pock-marked appearance – are properly understood and said on Monday that it wanted Airbus to mount a thorough investigation.