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Carriers back Bombardier Q400 as EASA seeks crisis talks

European aviation regulators are to hold a crisis meeting with Bombardier and Canadian authorities to discuss the airworthiness of the Q400 turboprop, as two of Europe’s largest operators of the type reaffirm their faith in the aircraft.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says it is “concerned” about the Scandinavian Airlines gear-related landing accident at Copenhagen two days ago and any “possible relation” with other recent incidents involving the type.

Scandinavian Airlines suffered two gear-collapse accidents last month and the Copenhagen event has prompted parent SAS Group to axe the Q400 from its carriers’ fleets.

EASA says: “The possible cause or causes of this accident are still unknown at the present time. We therefore urge the Danish authorities to inform us immediately of any results from the accident investigation.”

It adds it will speak urgently to Canadian regulators and Bombardier about the situation, stating: “In the light of our analysis we will decide whether to issue a further emergency airworthiness directive or any other appropriate measures for the Q400 aircraft.”

But UK regional carrier Flybe and Austrian regional carrier Austrian Arrows, Europe’s two other large operators of the Q400, have underlined their confidence in the type.

Flybe, which has more than 30 Q400s, says the aircraft has proven itself to be “reliable and safe” since entering service in early 2000. The carrier says: “Flybe has complete confidence in the Q400 and in the process of regulatory oversight which has made aviation the safest form of public transport.

“We await with interest the publication of independent reports into the SAS short-haul fleet and look forward to learning of any issues with operating procedures with the aircraft or with SAS’ maintenance procedures.”

Austrian Arrows has 10 Q400s in service and echoes Flybe’s opinion regarding the reliability of the type.

“According to our current findings our trust in the [Q400] fleet is unbroken, particularly as we have carried out around 116,000 take-offs and landings with the fleet, without any problems,” says Austrian chief executive Alfred Otsch.

“As safety has top priority, all of our aircraft are examined and maintained accurately on an ongoing basis. With our Q400 fleet there were no such incidents as unfortunately occurred with SAS.”

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