EU aviation regulator EASA has backed Airbus in its legal dispute against Qatar Airways over surface damages present on the A350 fleet.
EASA has argued that paint problems on the aircraft was an aesthetic defect that couldn’t lead to safety issues, despite claims by Qatar that the damage was a hazard as it left the plane’s lightning rod exposed.
“We have inspected the airplane,” EASA’s chief executive Patrick Ky said on Tuesday during a conference in Washington. “We saw no damage which could imply safety issues.”
Ky’s comments mark the latest round in the $1bn legal dispute between Airbus and Qatar Airways.
The carrier and plane manufacturer have been locked in a spat for the last few months after the airline was forced by its national aviation authority to ground the A350 fleet due to surface damages.
Qatar Airways stopped taking orders for the A350 aircraft and took the EU plane maker to court for $1bn.
The two parties are to face each other in court next year, after a UK judge granted the airline a speedy trial, which will take place from June 2023, City A.M. reported.
The carrier said a few weeks ago it was ready for the dispute go to court.
“Qatar Airways is ready to see this matter through to trial to ensure that its rights are protected and that Airbus is required to address an unprecedented and extremely unique and concerning defect impacting the A350 aircraft type, across the industry and multiple carriers,” company spokesperson said on 31 May.