Scandinavian Airlines System landing gear failures prompt grounding of Bombardier Q400s

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A file photo of an Augsburg Airways Dash 8-300, with the landing gear deployed.

The second landing gear failure on a Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) de Havilland Canada Dash 8 (also known as a Bombardier Q400 following Bombardier's purchase of de Havilland Canada from Boeing) within the space of a week has prompted the grounding of many of the twin-engined turboprops.

On September 9, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 1209 suffered a right landing gear failure during landing at Aalborg Airport, Denmark. A fire broke out during the crash, and five people sustained injuries. This was followed today by the similar crash of Scandinavian Airlines Flight 2748 at Palanga Airport, Lithuania. No-one was injured.

The accidents have resulted in Bombardier recommending the grounding of all Q400s, which have undertaken more than 60,000 flights, as a "precautionary measure". This affects leading carriers around the world, including SAS, Alaska Air 's Horizon Air subsidiary, Flybe, Japan Airlines, Austrian Airlines Group and Augsburg Airways, and covers around 60 aircraft.

SAS and Horizon Air have grounded 27 and 15 aircraft respectively, while Flybe have grounded six. Another airline, Porter Airlines, which operates the type exclusively against any others, have pointed out that their aircraft have not undertaken enough flights to be affected by the measures.

The landing gear are manufactured in the United States by Goodrich Corporation. One industry analyst, Cameron Doerksen, said that he felt that although the incidents and groundings obviously constitute bad publicity, he feels it would not influence the decision of a carrier considering whether to purchase Q400s. Bombardier declined 17 cents, or 2.7 percent, to C$6.23 on the Toronto Stock Exchange and SAS fell 6 kronor, or 4.8 percent, to 118 kronor in stock exchanging in Stockholm. Goodrich stock rose 19 cents to $64.96 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The groundings have caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled, leaving thousands of passengers stranded every day. The cost to SAS alone is estimated at 10-15 million Swedish kronor per day.