Kazakhstan’s Air Astana airline has filed a lawsuit in the US against Embraer alleging that the E190-E2 jets it operates have flaws that make them “unsafe to fly.”
The lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of Manhattan, seeks compensation of $11.9 million for the leasing of five aircraft of the model, from the Brazilian company’s newest series of commercial aircraft.
According to Air Astana’s lawyers, the lawsuit is intended “to recover damages suffered by Air Astana after it was constrained to suspend operations of a fleet of regional jet aircraft manufactured by Embraer, leaving a fleet of brand-new aircraft parked and empty on the ground , because those planes were unsafe to fly”.
For the Kazakhstan company, “E2s operated by Air Astana have experienced complex, in-flight failures that transferred across the aircraft’ operating systems. Those sorts of multiple, linked system failures are sometimes colloquially called ‘cascading’ failures. The unacceptable in- flight issues described below, including the cascading failures described in detail, constituted compensable breaches of obligations owed to Air Astana.”
Among the issues reported are failures in wing anti-ice systems, problems with cabin pressurization that led to the activation of oxygen masks, cabin smoke warning, hydraulic pump failure, altitude changes without crew intervention and failures in the activation of the slats on six occasions.
Air Astana also stated that it had been forced to suspend operations with the E2s since December 15, 2020 and that they would remain grounded.
“Only airline that suspended use of E2 aircraft”
Embraer released a statement in which it categorically denies Air Asanta’s accusations. The company “denies that it breached any obligations to Air Astana and will vigorously defend against all claims asserted.”
According to the Brazilian planmaker, in November 2020, one of the E190-E2 experienced a technical issue with a component. “While issues such as this occasionally occur, at no point did this constitute an immediate safety risk and the aircraft landed safely,” said Embraer.
The company puzzled Air Astana’s stance since the standard procedure in cases like this is to inform the component supplier and the aviation authorities. An Information Bulletin is then issued that determines the replacement in a shorter time than expected for all operators.
Instead, the Kazakhstan carrier took the “unilateral decision to suspend aircraft operations”, explains Embraer, which also revealed that Air Astana did so for a temporary period and soon resumed flights with the E190-E2.
“Safety is the number one priority for Embraer. Embraer recognizes that this is a hugely challenging time for our industry, and it has and will continue to assist all operators as much as possible in these difficult times,” the company said.
Embraer has a reputation for going ‘above and beyond’ in service to its customers, and the company has already dedicated many resources to assist Air Astana. Nonetheless, Embraer looks forward to presenting its case in court.”
First aircraft in December 2018
Air Astana has received five E190-E2 jets starting in December 2018 via lease from the AerCap company. The airline has been an Embraer customer since 2011 when it received the first E190.
According to ADS-B records, two E190-E2s are flying regularly, P4-KHA and P4-KHB registrations, while the others have the most recent flight record as of December last year.
There are currently 17 E190-E2 delivered, mostly with Helvetic Airways (8). Air Kiribati operates one aircraft and Wideroe, the launch customer of the model, another three aircraft.