The Bloomberg article also mentions that Airbus agreed to compensate QR $175k/day for unscheduled groundings. Shortly after is when QCAA started grounding planes, Airbus alleging interference.
The Bloomberg article is well written, however the magnitude of the compensation being sought by QR is higher than $175k, from the QR court filings
“ (b) The AOG Amount of USD 175,000 per each day was stated in January 2015 economic conditions and was to be escalated in accordance with the AOG Amount Revision Formula set out in Appendix A to Letter Agreement 1 of Amendment No. 8 to the A350 ASPA (Clause 3.2.2). As at the date hereof, the AOG Amount is USD 199,308 (2021).”
QR in their filings have claimed 8 different types of problems, they range from spider cracks, primer cracking underneath where the livery color intersects, oxidized ECF, rivet rash.
Rivet rash as it is known has been around for a long time, it is when the paint comes off the top of a fastener.
QRs court filings stated that Airbus had written to them detailing the methods these conditions develop
“ 16. Between around 2 February and 5 July 2021, the Defendant provided the Claimant with eight memoranda, each addressing one of the defects comprising the Condition. The memoranda provide some analysis of the causes of the defect, and in the case of the rivet rash, a hypothesis for the cause. However, none of the memoranda amounts to a valid root-cause analysis, and none identifies the root cause of the relevant defect.”
QR rejected the letters from Airbus because in its view they were not performed correctly, in their view
“ 17. In particular, the memoranda do not contain information which is necessary for any root-cause analysis, namely: (a) a requirements review; (b) a design criteria review; (c) a visual inspection analysis; (d) test programme review and data analysis; (e) a review of materials and process specification; (f) a review and critique of structural analysis; (g) recommendations for any additional testing or analysis; (h) a review of build and quality records; (i) a review of the aircraft flight and service history; and (j) an identifiable link between the results of the root-cause analysis and the proposed repair scheme.”
And they claim elsewhere in their filings they have no idea what investigators Airbus did with MSN36, yet they were aware that Airbus spent several months on their investigations.
They go onto say they cannot so the investigation themselves, because
“ 24. Further, the Claimant cannot conduct a full root-cause analysis alone. Such an analysis can only be carried out by, and/or with the assistance of, the Defendant because as the manufacturer and approved Design Authority, it has all the relevant data of the design, materials used and build of the QR A350 fleet and of the A350 more generally. By way of illustration, the Defendant fabricates the CFRP structure at various facilities globally. As such the Defendant is uniquely placed to review each of its facilities to ascertain whether any part of the procedure that was followed could compromise the integrity of the CFRP or ECF and cause one or more of the defects which make up the Condition.”
So Airbus in the documents have provided them with the details, they claim they do not have the ability to determine the details, and have rejected the details given to them by the manufacturer.
The court filing also paint a picture of collusion between the airline and the regulator.
“The QCAA suspended the Airworthiness Review Certificates in the following circumstances:
28.1 The Claimant observed that aircraft were suffering from defects comprising the Condition. The Claimant reported the extent of the damage to the QCAA, as its safety regulator. The Claimant was and remains concerned by the fact that: (a) the Defendant has not provided a root-cause analysis with the consequence that no satisfactory or permanent repair has been proposed to correct the root cause or to assess the impact of the Condition; and (b) the extent and scope of the accelerated surface degradation, i.e. the Condition, raises concerns about the potential impact of the Condition on safety and airworthiness of the Grounded Aircraft (those being the A350 aircraft with the most extensive damage caused by the Condition)“
The role of the QCAA is to make sure QR maintain their aircraft in accordance with the published procedures. They do not have a role in the certification of the airframe. If they have an issue with an airframes, the process under ICAO is to notify the state of design (ie EASA), and talk regulator to regulator.
The QCAA letters do not say that the aircraft were unairworthy, they said they “ (c) The QCAA therefore grounded the aircraft as a precautionary measure to prevent any untoward incident or accident caused by the Condition”
I am very pleased to see the A321s cancelled, if I owe someone money they are not going to sell me anything else until my account is settled.
Quotes taken from filings filed in Case No. HT-2021-000495 as filed in the HM Courts & Tribunals E-Filings.