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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
Bombardier hit by safety worries
SAS plane makes emergency landing at Aalborg airport, Denmark
The order has led to at least 40 planes being grounded worldwide
Canadian planemaker Bombardier has ordered the grounding of almost half of its Q400 turboprop planes after two were involved in landing gear failures.

Australia's Qantas and Japan's Air Nippon Airways are the latest airlines to halt flights by the planes.

The move, backed by the Canadian government, has led to the cancellation of at least 200 flights worldwide.

The move comes after landing gear on two Q400s owned by Scandinavia's SAS failed on touchdown.

Montreal-based Bombardier ordered the planes to be grounded after the equipment failures forced emergency landings of the planes in Denmark on Sunday and Lithuania on Wednesday.

SAS said no-one was seriously hurt in the incidents.

Cancellations

The order has led to at least 60 planes being grounded worldwide.

Both SAS and US regional carrier Horizon Air cancelled more than 100 flights each to inspect the aircraft - the firms own 27 and 19 turboprops respectively.

Meanwhile, Qantas, Lufthansa, Flybe, All Nippon Airways and Japan Air Commuter are also grounding the planes, Bombardier said.

"Our priority right now is to get the inspections rolling and to ensure that some of the older aircraft with the higher cycles are visually inspected and get back into operation as quickly as possible," said Bombardier spokesman Bert Cruickshank.

The company added that the groundings were a "precautionary measure", adding it believed its aircraft were "absolutely safe and reliable".

Safety fears

Aviation regulators in the US and Canada have recently ordered the firm to check wing problems on certain jets used by regional carriers in North America - affecting more than 700 planes.

The Q400 turboprop - which carries between 68 and 78 passengers - has been in use since 2000, and more than 160 of the planes have been delivered around the world.

However, its recent problems are not the first to affect involve the plane's landing gear.

In March, an All Nippon Airways Q400 plane carrying 56 passengers and four crew landed safely after its nose gear failed to descend.


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