SAS says to stop using Dash 8 Q400 after accidents

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Scandinavian airline SAS said on Sunday it would stop using Dash 8 Q400 aircraft after a series of crash landings, the latest on Saturday in Copenhagen.

Slideshow ( 3 images )

The airline, which has 27 of the planes, had only recently resumed flights of the Q400 turboprops after it had been forced to ground its fleet following two crash landings last month in Lithuania and in Denmark.

The decision to discontinue use of the Q400 planes, built by Canada’s Bombardier Inc., came after a weekend board meeting.

No one was seriously injured in any of the three crash landings, which all involved problems with landing gear. The planes are designed for regional services and carry up to 78 passengers.

“Confidence in the Q400 has diminished considerably and our customers are becoming increasingly doubtful about flying in this type of aircraft,” said Chief Executive Mats Jansson in a statement.

Deputy Chief Executive John Dueholm added that due to “repeated quality-related problems” there was a risk that use of the Dash 8 Q400 could damage the SAS brand.

“The aim is to replace traffic based on the Q400 by reallocating current aircraft in the SAS group’s fleet and by means of leasing,” the statement said.

SAS spokesman Olof Rundgren said SAS had canceled 52 flights on Sunday and another 13 on Monday, up from an earlier statement that 57 flights would be canceled over the two days.

Rundgren did not have further information beyond Monday.

Scandinavian aviation authorities on Saturday also issued a new flight ban on all SAS’s Q400 turboprops.

SAS has said it would seek compensation of about 500 million Swedish crowns ($78.06 million) from Bombardier. Rundgren said the company was likely to have more information of the costs of Sunday’s decision on Monday.

Bombardier said it was cooperating fully with SAS and the investigating aviation authorities and had sent a product safety and technical team to the Copenhagen site.

In a statement later on Sunday, Bombardier said it was disappointed with the SAS decision to permanently ground the Q400s, given that Saturday’s incident was still under investigation by Danish authorities.

The company said in its assessment of the situation it had not identified a systemic landing gear issue.

It also said that it had completed a review of the Q400 landing gear system and the results confirmed its safe design and operational integrity.

Rundgren said SAS will continue to use its 17 Dash 8 Q100 and 10 Q300 planes.

Additional reporting by Paritosh Bansal in New York