Bombardier Says Most Q400s Being Checked for Cracks

Bombardier Inc. said it’s directing carriers to inspect most of their Q400 turboprop aircraft for cracks or corrosion in engine casings after an unidentified airline found a fault in that area this year.

Of more than 300 planes in service globally with 30 carriers, about 222 need to be examined for fatigue, corrosion or stress in the engine casings, which are attached to the landing gear on the Q400, John Arnone, a Bombardier spokesman, said by telephone today. The Q400, the largest turboprop in the market, has been in service since 2000.

About 60 percent of the inspections have been completed since Montreal-based Bombardier issued service bulletins in April and July, Arnone said. Of those, the “potential for issues” was found in less than 4 percent, and corrective measures are under way or finished, he said.

“It’s a potential structural issue that could impact the aircraft’s operations,” Arnone said. “There have been no incidents yet.”

The cracks have “absolutely no relationship” to the landing-gear collapses that caused three crashes in 45 days in 2007 for Scandinavian airline SAS Group AB, Arnone said. Though both “potentially” involve corrosion, the parts are different and weren’t made by the same supplier, he said.

The current defect affects “a structural attachment to the aircraft inside the nacelle,” or engine casing, Arnone said. “It has nothing to do with the extension or retraction of the landing-gear system.”

Temporary Groundings

Bombardier is the world’s third-largest commercial-jet maker following Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. Landing-gear maker Goodrich Corp. and Bombardier paid SAS more than 1 billion kronor ($135 million) in compensation in 2008.

Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s biggest airline, said Aug. 21 that five of its Q400s were temporarily grounded following inspections after incidents experienced by another unidentified Q400 operator. Alaska Air Group Inc.’s Horizon regional unit has inspected the half of its fleet of 40 Q400s affected by the directive and didn’t find any faults, said spokeswoman Jen Boyer.

Only those planes whose engine nacelles have a particular component needed to be inspected, Arnone said. He said the part in question wasn’t built by Goodrich and declined to name the supplier.

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