PARIS, France: Airbus has changed the design of its A350 passenger jets amid a $2 billion dispute with Qatar Airways over damage to the surface of the aircraft.
The two companies have been involved in a court case revolving around the safety of flaking paint that exposed corrosion or gaps in a sub-layer of metallic lightning protection.
This week, Qatar Airways told a London court that Airbus had begun implementing the surface changes and called for more information. Meanwhile, Airbus confirmed that it had partly completed the changes, which began late last year.
The decision to start using a new design was significant to the case, said Judge David Waksman, during preliminary hearings.
Qatar Airways has blamed the damage on a design defect, but Airbus claims the former design remains state of the art and safe.
The A350 is a passenger plane mainly made of carbon and is competing with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
According to European regulators, the jets are safe, despite Qatar Airways claiming that this assessment cannot be guaranteed without more detailed analysis.
Qatar Airlines said it is requesting access to raw modeling data, so its technical experts can simulate the impact of a lightning strike.
After Airbus was overruled in a previous bid to use a special blocking law defending French interests, Qatar Airways accused Airbus of trying to prevent the release of data that could be valuable to its case.
But in a rare note of compromise, lawyers for the two companies provisionally agreed to not publicize the data.
Several other airlines have reported flaws in the painted surface of A350s, but only Qatar Airways stopped flying them.