Airbus (AIR.PA) has carried out design changes to A350 passenger jets amid a $2 billion dispute with Qatar Airways over surface damage, which spilled over to a debate on security on Thursday.
The two companies have been fighting in court for months over the safety impact of flaking paint that exposed corrosion or gaps in a sub-layer of metallic lightning protection.
At the heart of the case is a sandwich of copper foil between the carbon fuselage and outer paint on A350 jets, designed to allow lightning strikes to wash away safely.
Reuters first reported in November 2021 that Airbus was studying a new type known as perforated copper foil (PCF), initially because it was lighter than the current expanded copper foil (ECF), but also because it would ease cracking.
Qatar told a London court on Thursday that Airbus had started implementing the change and called for more information. Airbus confirmed its partial use from late last year.
“PCF is being used on rear-section parts on aircraft delivered from the end of 2022,” an Airbus spokesman said.
Wrapping up the latest preliminary hearing, Judge David Waksman described the decision to start using the new design as significant to the case.
Qatar Airways has blamed the damage on a possible design defect. Airbus argues the former design remains state of the art and is safe.