Preliminary report sheds light on SAS landing gear incident

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Friday, September 14, 2007

A preliminary report by the Danish civil aviation authority, SLV, has shed light on the events leading up to a Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) airliner experiencing a landing gear failure upon landing in Denmark, one of two similar crashes that have resulted in the grounding of more than 60 of the model in question across the world.

The aircraft, a Bombardier Q400 (alternatively known as a de Havilland Canada Dash 8), crashed due to a landing gear failure after a nut worked loose, due in turn to rusting on the threads of its bolt, according to the SLV's aircraft accident investigation committee report on Scandinavian Airlines Flight 1209. The nut and bolt were vital to the locking mechanism for the starboard landing gear, and consequently the structure collapsed.

The SLV does not specifically address why this occurred, but according to SLV spokesman Thorbjoern Ancker the problem is a design flaw, and not a maintenance issue as previously suspected. In his own words, 'All speculation that this was an error by SAS is now shown to be wrong... It's a constructional weakness.' He explained that Bombardier maintenance documents supplied with the aircraft did not require maintenance personnel to inspect the bolt in question, and that accordingly this had not been done.

Pending completion of landing gear inspections by SAS, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish authorities will make a decision regarding whether the air carrier's Q400 fleet should remain grounded, or be permitted to resume operations.

A spokesman for Bombardier refused to comment on the findings when contacted by reporters, preferring instead to wait until the publication of the final report into the accident. He did, however, make one comment regarding speculation that SAS would be compensated if the accident was proven to be the responsibility of the supplier, saying, "That will be part of the discussions between Bombardier and airlines."

Scandinavian Airlines have canceled 111 flights today as their Q400s are grounded per Air Transport Canada orders, while SAS have concealed 110 flights today and tomorrow while their aircraft are grounded.

Bombardier have circulated a document to all operators of the type, containing advice recommending a revised inspection program.

Shares in Bombardier fell 14 cents, or 2.2%, to CA$6.21 and most recent reports have them at $6.25. The company is therefore currently valued at $11 billion. Goodrich, who manufactured the equipment, fell 9 cents, or 0.1%, to US$65.11. SAS, who own Scandinavian Airlines, fell 2.25 kronor, or 1.9%, to 115.75 kronor. A continuing fall in SAS shares prices over the last six weeks has almost negated all gains this year.


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