A senior Bombardier official apologized to Japanese aviation officials Friday after one of the Canadian aircraft manufacturer’s propjets made an emergency landing at a regional airport earlier this week when the nose gear failed to deploy.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Bombardier Vice President Todd Young said it was too soon to comment on whether the fault for the gear’s failure — the result of a missing bolt — could be traced to the factory or was due to poor maintenance by All Nippon Airways.
Young added that Bombardier would cooperate fully with the transport ministry’s Aircraft and Railway Accidents Investigation Commission and ANA, whose Air Central subsidiary operated the DHC-8Q400.
Since the 1980s, DHC-8 series aircraft, though none of the DHC-8Q400 type, have been involved in seven landings in which their nose gears failed to deploy, Young added.
He said the causes of these accidents were unrelated to the latest case.
The Canadian manufacturer has said the Q400 had not had a nose gear failure before Tuesday’s emergency landing at Kochi airport in Shikoku. None of the 60 people on the plane was hurt.
Young also apologized over the accident at the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.
“We are concerned about the aircraft’s safety. I would like to ask you to cooperate in a subsequent investigation,” Yasuhisa Tani, head of the Engineering Department at the ministry’s Civil Aviation Bureau, told Young at their meeting.
The company is expected to probe, in cooperation with Japanese authorities and ANA, on why a bolt fell off the nose assembly and whether the problem was caused by the manufacturer or improper maintenance.
The ANA flight from Osaka to Kochi executed a safe emergency landing at its destination Tuesday with the nose gear retracted.
None of the 60 people on the plane was hurt when it touched down and its nose scraped along the runway before coming to a halt.
The itinerary of Bombardier’s Young includes a trip to Kochi airport in the afternoon to look at the troubled 74-seat twin-turboprop firsthand and later a visit to the Kochi Prefectural Government.
The transport ministry’s Aircraft and Railway Accidents Investigation Commission has requested cooperation from Canadian aviation authorities and confirmed their willingness to assist in the investigation, according to ministry officials.
The ANA flight was forced to land with its main gear only after the nose gear doors failed to open despite repeated attempts by the crew.
Commission investigators say a bolt had somehow fallen off the plane’s door-opening mechanism, allowing a tube-shaped bushing to protrude, preventing the doors from opening to let the wheels down.
In a message dated Wednesday, Bombardier urged airlines operating its DHC-8Q400s to check the nose gear door mechanism to see if a cotter pin that keeps the bolt in place is securely attached.
ANA has exchanged the pin in question and other pins for each of its 16 DHC-8s. None was missing, according to company officials.