EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, has issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) to rectify an issue with the Airbus A350-900 main landing gear door (MLGD).
The Issue At Hand…
The AD, issued on 10 March 2023, refers to the discovery of the index washers at the main landing gear door hinges number 1 and 3 being inverted in production. I.e., the index washer for forward fitting was installed at the rear fitting and vice versa.
An AD is a mandatory notification to an aircraft operator or owner to, as the UK CAA states, “address unsafe conditions” in the airworthiness of an aircraft. It is often associated with a Service Bulletin (SB) issued by an aircraft manufacturer.
The AD states that the issue could cause “in-flight loss of an MLGD” if the issue is “not detected and corrected” through actions taken from the notification.
The actions operators and owners must take to perform a one-time detailed inspection (DET) of the identified parts and areas once the aircraft has exceeded a determined amount of flight cycles or flight hours.
Aircraft are placed in two groups, depending on their manufacturer serial numbers (MSN), with differing requirements on hours and cycle limits for inspections. Group 1 aircraft require inspections before exceeding 9,600 flight cycles (FC) or 46,900 flight hours (FH), whichever occurs soonest. And Group 2 aircraft is before exceeding 16,800 FC or 82,750.
Following inspections, if found installed incorrectly, operators must replace the part within 500 FC or 3,500 FH, whichever occurs first.
Ongoing Drama Continues with the Airbus A350?
Qatar Airways was the only operator recorded as commenting on the proposal of the AD to EASA.
The comment stated that two of its A350-900s, registrations A7-AMK and A7-AML, were “corrected before delivery” due to Airbus processes and therefore were excluded from the Airbus SB.
It has been reported that some of the A350-900s with the highest flight hours are with the Doha-based carrier. The A350-900 with the highest flight cycles is with Vietnam Airlines.
These will be issues that Airbus will want to rectify sooner rather than later, especially off the back of Airbus settling with Qatar Airways over quality issues on the aircraft.
The agreement means both parties will now avoid a court case worth over $2 Billion in what is being earmarked as an unprecedented public rift.
In total, up to 29 Airbus A350 aircraft were grounded over the heat sync issues.
It remains clear that such issues surrounding the A350 are ongoing, but the credit goes to Airbus for rectifying fixes as quickly as possible.
Looking ahead, Airbus will be wanting to utilize this quick action in safety as a selling point as we get closer to the Paris Air Show.
But for now, all eyes are on Airbus to see whether the A350 will suffer any more issues or whether the rest of the problems have now been ironed out.
With contributions by James Field.