At the end of October, I asked whether Bombardier and SAS should kiss and make up over their differences. Yeah, sure there were three Q400 landing gear issues in two months, but what’s a little malfunction between friends?
Fortunately, that’s all water under the bridge now, and the two sides did come together to hash out a reconciliation. What’s the plan? Bombardier will fork over 1 billion Swedish kronor. That’s only about $164m today, but just wait a week or two and I’m sure that’ll rise to, oh , maybe $300 or $400m.
But wait, there’s more.
As part of the deal, SAS has to buy 27 new planes from Bombardier. Thirteen of those are CRJ-900 jets and fourteen are . . . Q400 NextGen birds. Whaaaaaaaat?!?
Oh yeah, they’re going back to the well. Presumably the title “NextGen” can be interpreted as “LandingGearNowWorks.” But I’d like to quote CEO Mats Jansson here from back in October. “Confidence in the Q400 has diminished considerably and our customers are becoming increasingly doubtful about flying in this type of aircraft.”
So, they took a huge hit by grounding the entire fleet and saying it wasn’t safe. Now they’re going back to flying the aircraft. Even if everything is fixed up, this still is not going to be an easy marketing sell for the airline to the locals. I bet they’re wishing they hadn’t bad-mouthed it so much back then.
Crap. I had dibs on those 27 Q400’s. Not only are they off the market, but the order books have been crammed with another 14.
Props to SAS (pun intended) for allowing reason to prevail. The superior economics of the aircraft should be even more evident after the words exchanged between SAS and Bombardier.
Two items of note — the compensation is coming from both BBD and Goodrich, the manufacturer of the landing gear. How much from each as not been made public. If I had to bet money, I would say Goodrich is not getting out of this lightly.
Second, the new Q400s are not going to be operated by SAS, but by Widerøe and airBaltic of Riga, Latvia.
SAS and Estonian Air will operate the CRJ-900s.
The whole issue with the Q400’s and SAS just doesn’t wash with me. There are several large companies operating Q400’s without landing gear problems. Horizon Air comes to mind.
So if this was a problem with the Q400, why haven’t we seen any Horizon Air Q400 accidents? Why have we only heard from SAS? I’m sorry but this sounds like SAS has a serious maintenance issue that they want to sweep under the rug to avoid overbearing European regulator scrutiny.
With Continental, Frontier (Lynx), Island Air (until they got rid of them) and Horizon Air operating Q400’s I have to side with Bombardier that this is a SAS problem and therefore SAS should be investigated by the European Aviation authorities.
And I thought US airline executives had the monopoly on doubletalk.
I love the graphic!