Lufthansa Cargo Airbus A321 Freighter Repairs Set For Completion

Lufthansa Cargo A321F

Lufthansa Cargo Airbus A321F

Credit: Lufthansa Cargo

Lufthansa Cargo and conversion specialist Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) said repairs to two of the operator’s Airbus A321 freighter aircraft which were found to have cracks in the rear floor structure should be completed within days.

The issues did not compromise the safe operation of the aircraft.

During a routine maintenance check Jan. 9, Lufthansa Cargo found that one of its Airbus A321 freighters, which had been converted by EFW, had a crack in the rear floor structure. The operator inspected its three other converted A321 freighters. On one aircraft, a minor crack was also found, while no issues were detected on the two others, which returned to service Jan. 10.  

EFW gave an update on the repairs in a Jan. 15 statement, saying the cracks were the first two such A321P2F cases reported to EFW and that after analysis of the data, it has concluded that the damage does not lead to unsafe conditions for the operation of the aircraft.

Repairs are expected to be completed within days, a Lufthansa Cargo spokesperson said.  

“Our aircraft are safe, there is currently no indication that the damage is related to the P2F modification,” EFW CEO Jordi Boto added. “The detailed loads analyses have meanwhile shown that the A321P2F certified mechanical loads are similar or even lower compared to the passenger aircraft results.”

EFW said the effect of the ballast on the floor grid had also been checked and not found to induce significant loads to the affected fuselage structure. The stress levels are comparable to the A321 passenger aircraft, EFW said, adding: “At this stage, there is no specific action required for operators.”

An Airbus spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of findings on rear fuselages of two Airbus A321F operated by Lufthansa CityLine for Lufthansa Cargo. Airbus Engineering has been involved by EFW immediately after the finding report and joint investigations have been initiated.”

The spokesperson added: “We are currently working closely with all parties involved to elaborate the matter. So far, it can be confirmed that such damages linked to corrosion do not affect the load carrying capability of the surrounding structure of the converted freighter aircraft. The safe operation of the aircraft is not compromised, following a thorough inspection scheme and standard repair guidance. At this stage no further specific action is required.”  

EFW added that the issues were “nothing unusual” for mid-age A321 aircraft. EFW therefore instructed Lufthansa Cargo on the repairs needed as per the aircraft’s structural repair manual.  

“The standard repairs for Lufthansa Cargo aircraft will be completed within a few days. After completion of further scheduled maintenance tasks, which are not related to the crack findings, the aircraft can return to operation,” EFW added.  

A spokesperson for Lufthansa Cargo also noted that passenger A320 family aircraft were not affected by the issue.  

“The repairs should be completed within a few days. All parties involved are working to return the aircraft to service as soon as possible,” the Lufthansa Cargo spokesperson said. “The D-AEUC is still in its scheduled layover period (from Dec. 26, 2023, until Jan. 21, 2024) and is therefore not scheduled for any missions. The repairs are expected to be completed within its scheduled layover period.”

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.