The first Airbus A220 being produced in America has been damaged after one of the Mobile, Alabama hangars was filled with foam.
Occurring on the 13th of September, outside of working hours, one of the roof-mounted fire suppression systems was triggered, releasing a significant amount of fire retardant foam into the building.
A preliminary investigation conducted by emergency services and Airbus site managers has concluded there was no presence of fire, smoke or significant heat.
The system involved will now be assessed to determine what caused the uncommanded release of fire retardant into the hangar.
Currently in production was the first A220-300 for Delta Air Lines, which was situated at the second wing junction station. According to people familiar with the incident, foam found its way inside parts of the aircraft including the fuselage.
Airbus now has to determine the extent of the damage as most of the avionics and electrical systems were already installed in the aircraft. Should these be damaged, the cost to remove and replace the components will be quite high.
This incident comes as a rather unfortunate blow for Airbus, who is already dealing with the production shortfalls from the original Mirabel A220 production line set up by Bombardier.
The aircraft involved was scheduled to be delivered during the third quarter of 2020, however depending on the impact of this incident, it may be pushed back.
Airbus will have to spend time cleaning up the foam and preparing the aircraft to continue through its assembly process. Worst case the aircraft has to undergo large amounts of work, possibly resulting in a restarted process.
At this time it is unclear if Delta will accept this aircraft or opt to wait for the next production example.
Aircraft hangar fire suppression systems work by blowing high-expansion fire suppression foam through blowers fixed to the roof. As the foam builds up on the ground, it expands and turns into a large pool of froth.
The foam prevents fire from breathing as well as hinders it with chemicals, reducing the possible damage.
An immediate evacuation is required during foam activation as it can disorientate and suffocate those caught up in it.
Airbus states no workers were injured during the September 13th incdient at Mobile, Alabama.