Lufthansa Grounds Two A321-200P2Fs Due to Fuselage Cracks

Lufthansa, the German flag carrier, has grounded two of its A321-200P2Fs after reportedly finding a crack in their aft fuselage, raising concerns about the conversion design. This is the first grounding of this aircraft type for Lufthansa. The airline currently operates a fleet of four converted Airbus narrowbody freighters, which were first delivered in January 2022. These four aircraft, ranging in age from 11 to 20 years old, initially served with Niki, Air Jamaica, and Air Berlin in passenger service before being converted by Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW). 


Upon discovering the cracks in early December, Lufthansa temporarily grounded all four A321P2Fs during a peak season for air cargo traffic. Two of its aircraft have since returned to service, according to a local report. As of press time, the 15-year-old D-AEUC has been parked in Serbia since December 26th, while the 11-year-old D-AEUI has been parked in Frankfurt since January 9th, as per data from Flightradar. 

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A source familiar with the A321 passenger-to-freighter conversion process suggested to Simple Flying that the discovery of cracks in the aft fuselage could indicate a larger issue with the aircraft design. An EFW spokesperson informed Simple Flying that a statement was expected on Monday. The German conversion house, EFW, obtained its supplemental type certificate to convert the A321-200 in 2020 and also holds supplemental type certificates for the A330-300, A330-200, and A320. EFW, a joint venture between Airbus and Singapore-based ST Engineering, has seen its conversions adopted by customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. 


Global Crossing Airlines, which operates one EFW-converted A321-200P2F (N410GX, MSN 1199), a 23-year-old aircraft, alongside two other A321-200PCF converted by Precision Aircraft Solutions, hasn't reported any issues with it. Lufthansa and aircraft lessor BBAM, which owns the aircraft where the cracks were found, did not respond to Simple Flying’s inquiry by press time. Although this is the first grounding for Lufthansa’s A321P2Fs, the EFW narrowbody conversion was the subject of a recent European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) airworthiness directive (AD) over the past few months. EASA had ordered, then retracted the order to inspect the EFW converted A321P2F conversion after reported problems with the wing box assembly. To date, EFW’s freighter conversions have maintained a perfect safety record. EFW has redelivered at least 30 A321P2Fs after their conversion. The EFW A321P2F conversion can lift up to 21 tons, according to Airbus.


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