SAS has confirmed that this morning’s Vilnius Bombardier Q400 accident bore a strong resemblance to its 9 September Aalborg crash, with both aircraft suffering a right landing gear collapse.
This morning a Scandinavian Airlines Q400, which was operating between Copenhagen to Palanga in Lithuania, diverted to Vilnius in Lithuania where it suffered a gear collapse on landing. None of the 48 passengers and four crew onboard were injured.
A SAS Group spokeswoman says: "When they landed the right landing gear collapsed in a very similar way to what happened in Aalborg in Denmark on [9 September].
"Those two accidents are unfortunately very similar. That’s why Bombardier now has become more highly involved. They have recommended that this type of aircraft with more than 10,000 landing-gear cycles should be inspected and until that is done, they should be grounded."
She says the timeframes of the two accidents - between landing and gear collapse – were very similar. But the spokeswoman was unable to give details of the weather at the time, the exact nature of the technical problem or the extent of the damage to the aircraft. The aircraft remains on the ground at Vilnius.
"We don’t really have any information [about the state of the aircraft], but you would assess that after having the landing gear break there would be substantial damage."
SAS Group operates 27 Q400s. Of these, 23 are operated by Scandinavian Airlines – including the two damaged aircraft. The remainder are operated by Wideroe in Norway.
Recent events have prompted Scandinavian Airlines and Wideroe to ground their Q400 fleets. The spokeswoman says this has caused a huge challenge for the carriers, with 100 cancellations in Denmark today and around 20 across the remainder of its operation.
Its Danish and Swedish domestic and European short-haul services are bearing the brunt of the operational disruption.
The spokeswoman says it is unclear how long the aircraft will be grounded for. "It is going to be a bit bigger than a five minute check. That’s not what we’re talking about this time. It is definitely affecting traffic today and for the next couple of days. We don’t know how long we will have to keep the fleet on the ground."
She adds that neither SAS nor Bombardier had seen similar problems before the 9 September landing gear collapse at Aalborg.