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Q400s need precautionary inspection for cracks

August 23, 2010, Montreal - Bombardier says nearly 90 per cent of its Q400 planes need to be inspected as a precautionary measure after one airline found cracks near the turboprop aircraft's landing gear.


August 23, 2010
By The Canadian Press

About 260 of the 300 planes in operation should have their rear spar nacelle fittings inspected for corrosion, fatigue and stress, the Montreal-based manufacturer said Monday.

The aircraft's main landing gear is attached to the nacelle.

Company spokesman John Arnone said about 60 per cent of the aircraft have been inspected since Bombardier first issued a service bulletin in April, followed by another in July.

"This is a precautionary and prudent measure undertaken by Bombardier and its customers,'' Arnone said in an interview.

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Australia's Qantas Airways grounded five of the 21 Q400s operated by regional airline QantasLink after low-cost British carrier Flybe raised concerns about the fittings on its fleet of Q400s.

Qantas told local media that it would take three to four weeks for the work to be completed on the five planes, which are its oldest Bombardiers.

It said two teams of engineers from Bombardier would come from Europe to repair any cracking.

Arnone said he's not aware of other airlines removing their planes from service while the company conducts inspections.

He said the aircraft remain safe and the potential problem is unrelated to incidents in 2007 that resulted in emergency landings in Denmark and Lithuania.

The emergency landings by Scandinavian Airlines planes were subsequently found to be caused by the corrosion of a bolt that prevented the landing gear from locking. Arnone said the bolts and the nacelles are made by two different manufacturers.

The airline removed its fleet of Q400s from service following the second crash in October 2007.

Toronto-based Porter Airlines exclusively operates Q400 aircraft from its base at the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto. It wasn't immediately clear if the airline has conducted inspections.

Meanwhile, U.S.-based Frontier Airlines said it will retain three Q400 turboprops to service flights in Colorado, including to Aspen. The subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings Inc. had planned remove
the fleet but a separate lease arrangement apparently fell through.