Q400: A tale of Slings and Arrows

Over in the USA my colleague Mary Kirby, in her Runway Girl blog, has highlighted an Austrian Airlines demonstration of how to keep your head, while your Star Alliance partners at SAS are losing theirs, by shrugging off a minor Q400 technical problem and underlining faith in the reliability of the aircraft.

To be fair, SAS might have learned how to throw its spectacular strop from another European airline which, back in 2003, was experiencing its own frustrating episodes with the Q400.

Persistent niggling problems culminated in one of its aircraft shedding a wheel on take-off, whereupon the carrier in question lost its rag and furiously told Bombardier to sort the Q400 out pretty damn quick, and give the airline “massive support” to eliminate the technical issues, or it could kiss any more orders goodbye.

“Our image has suffered greatly as a result of this series of technical problems,” stormed the airline’s then-managing director, a phrase not dissimilar to SAS’ own sentiments this week when it axed the Q400 from its fleet.

Which European carrier was spitting so much venom about the reliability of the Q400? Step forward Tyrolean Airways, the Q400 operator for…Austrian Airlines!

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9 Responses to Q400: A tale of Slings and Arrows

  1. Johnson 1 November, 2007 at 11:37 am #

    Let them replace those 70 seater turboprops with the Embraer170. Their customers will love it, the ultimate jet experience!

  2. moore 1 November, 2007 at 4:14 pm #

    Why is it SAS keeps having problems? How many of these aircraft are flying? It seems SAS is the focus of these undercarriage failures. Let’s not look at the aircraft, let’s look at the SAS maintenance program, or lack of it, instead.

  3. Finn Wolff Kaysfeld 2 November, 2007 at 6:42 am #

    Yes, SAS didn’t have any choice anymore

    The trust in this aircraft type was gone in Scandinavia. If SAS had continued to use the type, it would surely have damaged SAS’s reputation even further.

    Surely SAS maintenance practices should be examined, but I think the reason SAS has most of the problems with this type is that SAS was among the first to receive this type and use them in a region with hard winters.

    All of SAS’s Q400 aircraft with many landings had similar problems in their landing gear.

  4. Lasse 2 November, 2007 at 9:10 am #

    Now it is established that the failure is in the Bodø maintenance workshops QA/QC system. That is where the foreign object, (O-ring) that blocked the main landing gear, came from. Then it is even more evident that it is SAS management that should be examined – because so many small entities inside a conglomerate can be uncontrollable, leading to a situation like now. And the hysterical press should seek sound advice before climbing into high trees.

  5. George 2 November, 2007 at 1:36 pm #

    I think SAS took the right decision to get rid of these turboprops. I know from my own exprience that passengers’ first choice is not to fly in propeller-driven aircraft. In this case they lost trust in this prop aircraft due to these gear incidents.

    Since SAS axed the new Bombardier Dash 8-400, I think this will also damage their (SAS’s) relationship with Bombardier.

    The best thing is if they acquire a regional jet in the long term, with a 50-70 seat capacity. Embraer would be a good choice and maybe they can even consider Sukhoi, for their new efficient and modern Superjet. Also the cargo capacity/performance of these jets is better than every turboprop out there.

    I think a modern regional jet would perform very good in those low temperature conditions in the Scandinavian country, and also please get their passengers comfortable flying with SAS again.

  6. Finn 2 November, 2007 at 8:23 pm #

    The last accident might be a maintenance issue, or it might not.

    But I doubt that the first two incidents can be blamed on SAS. Everything point to a design fault or faulty maintenance instructions from Bombardier.

  7. SC 4 November, 2007 at 11:52 am #

    Aircraft, maintenance, or both, SAS made the right choice to axe them. At the end of the day they are in the BUSINESS of getting people from A to B safely. If people don’t think they can do that, then it’s not right for the BUSINESS.

    SAS needs to regain the trust of the people regardless of the cause of the issues.

    Because the public knows it’s the Q400 that was involved in the problems, no amount of clarification or retracted sentiment will remove, from much of the public’s mind, the fact that the aircraft was involved in a lot of major issues of late.

    Removing the Q400 is the best way to regain the trust of the travelling public. No if’s, and’s or but’s.

  8. dd 4 November, 2007 at 6:07 pm #

    I wonder what they’ll do with their type rated pilots and trained ground staff…?

  9. Roger Saberton 5 November, 2007 at 12:43 pm #

    The Dash 8-400 has done excellent service with other airlines, thus possibly indicating there is some relationship between the landing gear problems and this airline’s operating environment. Suggest it would be wise to investigate that issue first before switching to other products.

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