Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) says that its technical department has found problems in a large majority of its Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 fleet.
SAS withdrew its entire 27-strong Q400 fleet (including four from partner carrier, Wideroe) late last year following three landing gear incidents, although the manufacturer insists it is standing by its aircraft.
”We can confirm that our technical department has found problems in 63% of the SSV valves on the inspected aircraft that we have permanently grounded after the accidents last autumn,” said SAS Group executive vice president corporate communications, Claus Sonberg.
”SAS had no possibility of ” and cannot be blamed for not ” discovering these problems, or the undetected error that caused the first two accidents in the course of its maintenance work.”
The carrier is waiting for the Danish Accident Investigation Board”s final conclusion, but the body has previously said that an actuator construction error was the cause of the first two incidents involving the Dash Q400.
SAS also says that although the Danish Accident Board has not yet presented any conclusion concerning the third incident, it has noted in a provisional report that the most likely reason is that an O ring came loose from the SSV valve in the hydraulics system. The airline adds that the SSV valve ”has a construction error and is currently being modified by the supplier.”
Flybe is the world”s largest operator of Q400s with 35 of the type but has previously said it has ”complete confidence” in the Bombardier aircraft, describing it as ”safe and reliable.” A statement from the airline said: "Following precautionary safety inspections carried out with Bombardier and given our own impeccable safety record, the International Air Transport Association, the Civil Aviation Authority and Flybe, have complete confidence that passengers are in the very safest of hands when they choose to fly with Flybe."
The Canadian manufacturer has also resolutely defended its regional aircraft, formerly noting that: ”Bombardier and the landing gear manufacturer, Goodrich, have completed a full review of the Q400 landing gear system and results have confirmed its safe design and operational integrity.”