Comprehensive action plan for Dash 8/400 immediately initiated by Tyrolean Airways
AAG calls for greater commitment on the part of aircraft manufacturer Bombardier
“I have made it absolutely clear to Laurent Beaudoin, the Chairman of Bombardier Inc, the manufacturers of the Dash 8 / 400, that we are now calling for massive support in eliminating the technical problems we are having with this aircraft type,” stated Vagn Soerensen, CEO of the Austrian Airlines Group, at the start of a press conference to present a package of measures for the Tyrolean Airways Dash 8 / 400 fleet. “I whould like to express my personal apologies to all our customers who were affected by flight cancellations and suffered inconvenience as a result. I assure you that we are doing everything in our power to restore the usual reliability and punctuality of our services as quickly as possible,” Soerensen added.
Soerensen«s declaration was made as a result of the recent incident involving a Dash 8 / 400 belonging to the Austrian Airlines Group carrier Tyrolean Airways, in which a wheel detached from the starboard side of the aircraft«s dual undercarriage at Frankfurt Airport. During summer 2002 there had been an increase in the number of flight cancellations, particularly on the Salzburg - Frankfurt - Salzburg route. These delays were due to necessary technical adaptation work on the electronics of the Dash 8 / 400 aircraft used to operate services on this route. The majority of these teething troubles had been eliminated by the end of October 2002 thanks to a comprehensive raft of measures undertaken by the Tyrolean technical services department. The latest incident was in no way connected with these earlier problems, said Soerensen.
Dr. Walter Bock, as Chief Operations Officer responsible for Flight Operations, Technical Services and Ground Services, emphasised that safety is the top priority of the entire Austrian Airlines Group: “Although many passengers have been irritated by flight cancellations, the supreme commandment is and remains that we only take off if all the aircraft«s safety systems are functioning perfectly. This will continue to be the case in future. Our group carrier Tyrolean Airways has been operating safely and without accident since its founding 23 years ago.
Like any other aircraft, the Dash 8 / 400 is equipped with multiple back-up systems as a matter of course. This means that the irregularities that arose in the operation of this aircraft did not represent a safety problem, nor were passengers and crews exposed to danger at any time.”
“Our image has suffered greatly as a result of this series of technical problems and I can well understand the annoyance of the affected passengers. This concerns me all the more when I think that the Tyrolean Airways fleet, with an average aircraft age of 4.8 years, is one of the youngest worldwide and that the Dash 8 / 400 is the most modern, economical and environmentally friendly turboprop aircraft currently available,” said Johann Messner, Managing Director of Tyrolean Airways. Messner went on to outline the action plan for immediate implementation: “My entire team is working flat out to further improve the operational reliability of the Dash 8 / 400 fleet. The first of a total of three modification programmes on this aircraft type was already carried out at the beginning of 2001. In consultation with the Group management Tyrolean Airways has now adopted the following additional measures for immediate implementation”:
1. A comprehensive modification programme, the fourth of its kind at this stage, will get under way in the next few days. This will essentially focus on further optimisation of the electronics and software programs, as well as on adaptation of technical components in the hydraulic systems. 2. In response to the latest incident the undercarriages of all seven other Dash 8 / 400 aircraft currently in the fleet have been subjected to an in-depth inspection to detect possible hairline cracks. Although the undercarriages were found to be in perfect order, as an additional precautionary measure the intervals between inspections will be shortened in future. 3. The detached wheel is currently undergoing comprehensive metallurgical testing at an institute specialising in this field to establish beyond all doubt what caused the wheel nut to break. 4. 9 additional specialists with exclusive responsibility for the Dash 8 / 400 have been added to the Tyrolean Airways technical services team, which now numbers 145 highly-qualified technicians. 5. The Dash 8 / 400 maintenance depot has been equipped with additional spare parts to the value of EUR 600,000 to enable technical components to be replaced even more quickly in future. Furthermore, Bombardier was requested to provide further components free of cost.
6. Within Austria the Dash 8 / 400 will only operate to and from airports where a large maintenance team is on hand, as is the case at Vienna, Innsbruck and Altenrhein airport.
7. Effective from today the Salzburg - Frankfurt - Salzburg route will be operated by a Fokker 70 aircraft. In addition, a dedicated technical maintenance organisation will also be set up in Salzburg, comprising up to 6 technicians of whom three will be Fokker 70 specialists.
8. The aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc. will provide a replacement aircraft for a period of at least 6 months in order to create scope for greater operational flexibility
9. A “Quick Response Team” will be installed at the manufacturer«s works. This team of technical experts will be on hand to analyse any problems that occur immediately and offer reliable solutions for all carriers operating Dash 8 / 400 aircraft.
10. An additional team of engineers from Bombardier Inc. will support the specialists from Tyrolean in their base in Innsbruck to analyse the cause of the defects and find reliable solutions.
11. Until all the defects have been completely eliminated, the Austrian Airlines Group will refrain from placing further orders with Bombardier.