Crash landings raise concern

Planes that could come to Steamboat malfunction in Europe


— Frontier Airlines service between Denver and Hayden - originally expected by ski season but held up by Federal Aviation Administration approval - now faces an additional hurdle.

The European Union's aviation safety authority called for a "crisis meeting" this week regarding the safety of Bombardier Q-400 turboprop planes. Frontier has purchased 10 of the same planes to increase its regional service out of Denver through its subsidiary, Lynx Aviation.

On Saturday, a Q-400 operated by Scandinavian airline SAS crash landed in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a landing gear malfunction. Although there were no serious injuries, it was the third such incident in seven weeks and sixth overall involving the Q-400.

Frontier hoped to launch Lynx this month, but delays in federal certification have pushed the company's estimated launch to December. Although the airline has not officially announced that Yampa Valley Regional Airport will be included in its slate of Western Slope resort airports, Andy Wirth, marketing director for the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. and parent company Intrawest, has all but confirmed it.

"We've been in touch on a weekly basis with Frontier officials," Wirth said Tuesday. "Both of us remain confident they'll get that certification."

Noting that safety is the airline's top priority, Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas said he doesn't expect the crash landings in Europe to further hold up Lynx's FAA approval. Hodas said the planes that had landing gear malfunctions are seven or eight years old.

"The good news for us is that we're not the test airline," Hodas said. "Whatever incidents are arising can be addressed long before our planes reach that age."

Hodas also said the Q-400, released in 2000, is a new model and that new models commonly have such issues.

Wirth's confidence in winning the Frontier service led him to include the service in a June estimate of 175,000 available seats for air passengers this ski season. After subtracting Frontier service from the estimate and adding a United flight from Chicago, Wirth has pared that estimate down to 164,000 - which would still be a record year for the air program. Wirth said the success of Steamboat's winter air program is "not reliant on (Frontier) to have a successful year."

Wirth also acknowledged that with each passing day, Frontier's potential to land ski season reservations is diminished.

"When they announce service and go on sale is as important or more important than when they start service," said Wirth, who noted that 40 to 45 percent of ski season reservations have already been made. "It really limits their potential for success."

At the same time, Wirth said Ski Corp. is looking at the big picture and the potential for year-round, not just winter, service.

"We recognize that and appreciate this as a year-round matter," Wirth said.

Last month, YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel confirmed there is an available ticketing desk at passenger check-in to accommodate Lynx should it receive its certification and choose to come to the county airport.


RoxyDad 9 years, 5 months ago

Lets get a better plane to use.

No visitors are better than dead visitors.


id04sp 9 years, 5 months ago

The problem with the plane will turn out to be something simple that can be corrected without too much trouble. It's most likely due to side-loads on gear components during crosswind landings. Inspections, modifications and operator procedures will take care of it.


elphaba 9 years, 5 months ago

Gosh id04sp you sure know a lot about airplanes


id04sp 9 years, 5 months ago

Wanna hear about the geometric over-center lock?

When fully extended, the hydraulic actuator drives a link in the landing gear retraction system past the "center" point so that the wind load on the strut will tend to prevent the link from moving back toward the "retracted" position even if the pressure fails on the hydraulic actuator. In layman's terms, it's like shoving the back of a straight chair under the door knob on an inward-opening door so that the door is jammed in the closed position, and any attempt to open the door merely jams the arrangement tighter without letting the door open.

Ever notice how on the Bombardier airplanes of this general type the landing gear is hinged toward the trailing edge of the wing? That's to help the gear stay down and locked even if the hydraulic system fails. In someaircraft, when the mechanical up-lock releases, the gear can simply fall by gravity into the windstream and then be pushed back into the "down and locked" position.

What all of this means is that the inherent design of the Bombardier landing gear is very reliable, and the only way it could collapse would be some loose, broken or bent component that would defeat the geometric over-center downlock -- in other words, something is pulling the chair out of the way so the door can open.

According to the link posted below, the cause oaf the recent malufunctions has been corrosion in the actuator piston. If pressure is allowed to leak while the gear is in the "down" position, and the landing is a bit "bouncy," that could allow the over-center link to go back the other way and cause the gear to collapse.


Matthew Stoddard 9 years, 5 months ago


had to do it!


elphaba 9 years, 5 months ago

How about disabling the static pitot? How would someone do that?


id04sp 9 years, 5 months ago

Put a piece of tape over it.

Oh, and then somehow plug the alternate static source inside the cabin if there is one.


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