Airbus plans to provide a modification for the overhead bin door latches on its A320 family aircraft, after some operators reported problems with the latches.

But the European airframer - which has been working with the overhead bin supplier to investigate the reason for the latch issues - says it believes the main root cause is the frequent overloading of overhead bins, beyond the aircraft specification.

A latch modification will be tested for a three-to-four month period beginning at the end of July. In parallel an overhead bin structural modification will be tested at the supplier, says Airbus.

FACC, which develops and manufacturers composite components and systems for civil aircraft, is understood to be the overhead bin supplier for Airbus A320 family aircraft.

"Based on the feedback from the in-service and structural tests, a design improvement is planned to be implemented in the second quarter 2011, for both retro-fit and line-fit embodiment," says Airbus, adding that it recommends that operators not overload the overhead bins.

US Airways is among the carriers to have reported problems with the latches. However, the airline says it noticed the problem on new-delivery Airbus narrowbodies.

"We experienced a decrease in bin latch reliability and contacted Airbus to work through the details of modifying or creating a new latch design, as this is a problem with the fleet worldwide and is being managed by Airbus," says US Airways in a weekly newsletter to employees.

The carrier says the first attempt by Airbus "produced an unacceptable latch which was rejected by US [Airways]". It has since evaluated a second redesign and is "scheduled to receive a set of these newly designed bin latches next month".

These new latches will be installed and field tested on one US Airways aircraft and if no problems develop, retrofit of the fleet will occur early next year.

FACC could not be immediately reached for comment.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news