Landing gear problems plague Bombardiers

The pilot of the Air Nelson aircraft which nose dived into the tarmac at Blenheim Airport yesterday after the nose wheel collapsed knew there was a problem with the landing gear but believed it was locked down, according to a passenger.

The manufacturers of the Bombardier say the incident was the third one of its kind worldwide in less than a week.

The Q300 had been diverted from landing at Nelson because of poor weather when it ploughed into the runway at Blenheim, but there were no injuries to the 46 passengers and three crew on board.

Passengers said they were not warned of any danger.

Morrie Love, who was on the flight, told the Marlborough Express there was a squelchy noise on landing and the passengers only knew there was a problem when they saw an ambulance and fire engine making their way towards the aircraft.

Mr Love said it was not until passengers disembarked that they saw how serious it was.

He said the pilot told him afterward that he did not realise there was a problem with the nose wheel locking until they got to Blenheim. He had tried a secondary process which showed the gear had locked down so he proceeded to land after notifying emergency services, Mr Love said.

But Bombardier spokesman Bert Cruikshank told the Associated Press the landing gear failures were not connected as they involved three different aircraft types and two different landing-gear suppliers,

Landing gear of all aircraft is specifically checked prior to the first flight each day and this had taken place across the fleet yesterday, Air New Zealand spokeswoman Andrea Dale said.

Air New Zealand was in contact with the manufacturer and would be working with it to investigate the issue, she said.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) is also investigating.

The incident follows an emergency landing by Bombardier CRJ-200 into a Milwaukee Airport in the United States on Tuesday after only two of the three sets of landing gear would lower.

And last Saturday, a CRJ-900 jetliner made an emergency landing at John F Kennedy International Airport because of a problem with its landing gear.

"We don't believe the incident is linked with those overseas at this stage so we are not looking at that aspect," TAIC air accident investigator Peter Williams said.

In 2007, an Air NZ Beechcraft 1900D made a belly landing at Woodbourne with 17 people aboard after its landing gear failed to come down. No one was injured.





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