• SAS A350

    SAS

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    SK/SAS

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hub(s):
    Copenhagen Airport, Oslo Gardermoen Airport, Stockholm Arlanda Airport

    Year Founded:
    1946

    Alliance:
    Star Alliance

    Airline Group:
    SAS Group

    CEO:
    Anko van der Werff

The very nature of time means that airlines can’t operate aircraft forever. Over the course of a carrier’s history, various models will come and go, with retirements generally being a rather gradual and ceremonial matter. However, October 28th, 2007, saw Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) announce its intentions to retire its entire fleet of Dash 8 turboprops. But what exactly brought about this decision?

The first incident

September 2007 was a desperately unlucky month for SAS as far as its Bombardier Dash 8 fleet was concerned. Specifically, this period saw it experience two landing gear failures involving Dash 8-Q400 turboprops. What made these incidents all the more alarming was the fact that they occurred across a span of just four days. Let’s take a look at how they unfolded.

The first of these took place on September 9th, 2007, in Aalborg, Denmark. According to the Aviation Safety Network, the right landing gear failed to lock into place, which prompted it to collapse upon touchdown. This caused the aircraft’s right wing to strike the ground, starting a fire. Five of the flight’s 73 occupants were injured as a result, either by the impact or during the evacuation.

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SAS Dash 8

Another collapse

Then, on September 12th, a similar incident befell another SAS flight to Palanga, Lithuania. The crew discovered a landing gear issue inflight, and diverted to Vilnius. Here, the plane’s right landing gear collapsed on touchdown once again.

Thankfully, none of the 52 occupants were injured in this incident. Despite this, it was still the most serious one to occur in Vilnius’s in several years. Neither of the two aircraft involved were particularly old, with the Aviation Safety Network noting that they first flew in 2000 and 2001 respectively. The second incident prompted SAS to ground its entire Dash 8 fleet, which consisted of 27 Dash 8-Q400s.

Shortly afterward, Bombardier made a similar recommendation for operators flying Dash 8-Q400s with more than 10,000 flying hours (around 60 of 160 in service at the time). This led to hundreds of cancellations worldwide.

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Austrian Dash 8

Austrian was one of the carriers to ground Dash 8s after the second incident, taking eight out of service. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

The last straw

However, a third incident proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the Dash 8 family at SAS (whose full name is Scandinavian Airlines System). Around six weeks after the second occurrence, on October 27th, 2007, the crew of a Copenhagen-bound Dash 8 discovered a main gear issue inflight. However, unlike the previous collapses, this flight was forced to land with its right gear already up.

Once again, this meant that the aircraft’s right wing struck the runway upon landing. However, in contrast to first incident, there was no fire as a result on this occasion. All 44 of its occupants escaped without injury, but the writing was on the wall for the type at SAS. The following day, it announced the planned retirement of its Dash 8-Q400 aircraft, bringing their story to a close.

Where did the aircraft end up?

This decision left SAS suddenly without 27 relatively young short-haul aircraft. It eventually agreed upon a settlement with Bombardier. This saw it order a new batch of the company’s regional aircraft, but with a $164 million discount in light of the incidents. That being said, where did its former Dash 8s end up?

Flybe Dash 8 London City

Some of Flybe’s many Dash 8s came from SAS. Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying

Despite SAS’s difficulties with its Dash 8 fleet, the aircraft that it suddenly retired soon found new operators. According to ATDB.aero, some of these transferred to UK-based regional carrier (and big Dash 8 fan) Flybe.

Flybe was the largest operator of the type before its collapse in March 2020. This led to a sharp drop in European Dash 8-operated flights, although Flybe has since restarted operations with the type. Other airlines all over the world went on to operate SAS’s retired Dash 8s, with the list including the likes of:

  • Bluebird Aviation (Kenya)
  • LAM Mozambique Airlines
  • Malév Hungarian Airlines
  • Nord-Flyg (Sweden)
  • PAL Express (Philippines)
  • Widerøe (Norway)
  • 748 Air Services (Kenya)

Were you aware of SAS’s sudden withdrawal of its Dash 8 aircraft? Did you get the chance to fly on one during their time at the carrier? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Sources: ATDB.aero, Aviation Safety Network

Source: simpleflying.com

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