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Bombardier grounds Q400 turboprops after landing gear problems

Bombardier Inc. is grounding many of its Q400 turboprop planes, after a Scandinavian Airlines aircraft skidded off a runway.


September 20, 2007
Carey Fredericks

Bombardier Inc. is grounding many of its Q400 turboprop planes worldwide after a Scandinavian Airlines aircraft skidded off a runway with 52 people aboard Wednesday, the second such incident in three days.

Transport Canada issued an airworthiness directive late Wednesday that says all Q400 aircraft operators must conduct a general visual inspection of the planes' landing gear.

It called for a more detailed visual inspection in planes that have landed more than 8,000 times, or have been in service for more than four years _ whichever comes first. The second requirement covers about 85 of the 160 aircraft worldwide.

Earlier Wednesday, Bombardier and landing gear manufacturer Goodrich Corp. had recommended inspections for planes that had taken off and landed more than 10,000 times – about 60 Q400s used worldwide.

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The Scandinavian Airlines plane smashed one wing into the ground after its right-side landing gear failed to lower during an emergency landing in Vilnius, Lithuania. Pilots attempted to land the plane on its front and left landing gear when the right set of wheels failed to descend, airport
authorities said. The crew made all passengers sit on the left side of the plane for fear that the right propeller might break into pieces and puncture the cabin.

None of the 48 passengers or four crew members were hurt.

Three days earlier, five people were injured when another Scandinavian Airlines Q400 crash-landed and caught fire in Aalborg, Denmark.

Bombardier said it has sent two separate air safety teams to both sites.

Shares in Bombardier dropped to as low as C$6.08 at the Toronto Stock Exchange but recovered somewhat in later trading. The stock closed down 2.19 per cent Wednesday, down 14 cents to $6.26 on a volume of 9.1 million shares.

Scandinavian Airlines, also known as SAS, immediately grounded its fleet of turboprops and cancelled more than 100 flights Wednesday.

SAS grounded its 27 Bombardier turboprops of the same make and Austrian Airlines Group said it would not fly the eight it owns,pending inspection.

Horizon Air, a regional carrier operated by Alaska Air Group Inc., grounded 120 flights out of its daily average of 500 Wednesday to inspect its turboprop aircraft. Horizon said it is also cancelling 127 flights on Thursday.

Toronto-based Porter Airlines said its operations were unaffected by the inspection notice, since its Q400s have completed 2,000 flights or less and have the newest generation landing-gear assembly.

In a statement late Wednesday, Porter added it will also continue operating its regular schedule after completing additional visual inspections of the landing gear assembly on its four Bombardier Q400 aircraft as required by Transport Canada.