COPENHAGEN Thomson Financial - Scandinavian Airlines System yesterday announced the permanent removal of all Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 passenger planes from its fleet following a series of incidents involving landing gear.
The airline group's board of directors said in a statement that it had decided 'to immediately discontinue the use of this type of aircraft'.
The Dash 8 Q400 has given rise to 'repeated quality-related problems,' said SAS deputy chief executive officer John Dueholm.
'SAS's flight operations have always enjoyed an excellent reputation and there is a risk that use of the Dash 8 Q400 could eventually damage the SAS brand,' Dueholm said.
The SAS statement acknowledged that Sunday's decision would result in flight cancellations and said the airline would try to compensate by reallocating current aircraft in the group's fleet and leasing from other airlines.
Still, some 50 flights were cancelled Sunday and at least eight others are cancelled for Monday, a spokesman said.
On Saturday, Danish civil aviation grounded all Dash 8 Q400 planes in the SAS fleet after one made an emergency landing at Copenhagen airport. None of the 44 passengers and crew on board were injured.
According to Danish police cited by Ritzau news agency, the landing gear in the plane's right wing failed to deploy.
It was the latest in a string of incidents involving the aircraft which carries around 70 passengers and is manufactured by Bombardier of Canada.
On Sept 12, SAS grounded its entire fleet of 8 Q400s after two planes' landing gears failed in separate incidents.
Inspections later found that the insides of the landing gear bolts on the entire Dash fleet of SAS were corroded.
After that ban was lifted another 8 Q400 had problems with its landing gear whilst in mid-air on October 10 and was forced to return to Copenhagen airport.
'Confidence in the Q400 has diminished considerably and our customers are becoming increasingly doubtful about flying in this type of aircraft,' SAS chief Mats Jansson said in the statement.
SAS had operated 27 of the 8 Q400s, using them on many Nordic regional routes and for connections to close destinations such as Britain, Germany, Luxembourg and Poland. tf.TFN-Europe_newsdesk@thomson.com jlw COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Financial News Limited 2007. All rights reserved. The copying, republication or redistribution of Thomson Financial News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Financial News.