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Monday, October 29, 2007

SAS Permanently Drops Q400 Fleet

Following yet another landing gear incident, SAS President and CEO Mats Jannson announced the permanent removal of its 27-aircraft Q400 fleet, citing the damage done to customer confidence. The move came after a masterful landing by the crew of a Q400, aircraft S/N 4024, registration number LN-RDI and flight number SK 2867, from Bergen to Copenhagen at 16.55 hrs local time on October 27. SAS confirmed there were 38 passengers, 2 infants and 4 crew members onboard, no one was seriously injured and the fact that prior to the accident problems with the main landing gear was reported. Videoclip
SAS’s fleet had just returned to service after a protracted grounding following landing gear problems and two accidents in September. Related Story
“According to preliminary information, the incident involved the main right hand landing gear, which failed to fully extend for landing,” said Bombardier. “There appears to be no relationship between this incident and previous SAS Q400 main landing gear incidents. Bombardier has advised all Q400 operators via an All Operator Message (AOM) of this incident but is not recommending changes to their normal on-going Q400 flight operations."
SAS had already filed an $80 million claim against Bombardier for the losses resulting from the grounding which also impacted the worldwide fleet. Horizon said it lost $4 million to $5 million in lost revenue alone and was still calculating total losses. It said it was scheduled to meet with Bombardier this week on this and other matters. SAS is now furiously looking for replacement aircraft, a daunting task since the Q400 constituted five percent of its fleet. The airline already cancelled numerous flights on Sunday and Monday.
Bombardier issued a second statement saying it is disappointed with the SAS decision to permanently discontinue flight operations with the Bombardier Q400 aircraft. “While SAS chose to ground its Q400 turboprop fleet following the incident on October 27, Bombardier’s assessment of this situation, in consultation with Transport Canada, did not identify a systemic landing gear issue,” said the Canadian aircraft manufacturer. “Based on this we advised all Q400 aircraft operators that they should continue with normal Q400 aircraft flight operations. Further, Bombardier and the landing gear manufacturer, Goodrich, have completed a full review of the Q400 turboprop landing gear system and results have confirmed its safe design and operational integrity.”
Bombardier stated it stands behind the Q400 aircraft, citing the fact that, since entering revenue service in February 2000, the Q400 turboprop has proven itself to be a safe and reliable aircraft with over 150 Q400 aircraft in operation among 22 operators around the world. It added that, to date, the fleet of Q400 aircraft has logged over one million flying hours and 1.2 million take-off and landing cycles.
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