Technical problems plague new planes

  • 2010-12-08
  • From wire reports

RIGA - The new Q400 Next Gen passenger planes that Latvian national airline airBaltic has bought from the Canadian manufacturer Bombardier appear to have problems with cabin pressure, said Civil Aviation Agency’s Aeronavigation Department head Maris Cernonoks, reports The problem is due to faulty cabin doors that do not shut completely, said Cernonoks, adding though that speculation that this fault could result in an aircraft explosion or damage passengers’ health were unfounded. The Canadian company has overlooked a certain technical aspect, and the Civil Aviation Agency has already reported this to the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Due to the cabin door not shutting completely, the cabin is not sealed off, which is why passengers feel a certain discomfort due to pressure changes, which cannot be regulated in such a situation, explained the expert.
Visually the door appears to be tightly shut, and there are no signals warning that they are not. Only when the plane takes off does it become obvious that the door is not completely shut and the cabin is not airtight, said Cernonoks. The last time when an airBaltic plane returned to Riga Airport, it did so for this same reason.

As reported, an airBaltic Bombardier Q400 NextGen that took off for Brussels from Riga in the evening of Dec. 5 had to make an emergency landing at Riga Airport after defects were noted in the cabin pressure regime.
The emergency landing was successful, said the State Fire and Rescue Service, with four fire trucks, as well as several ambulances and police cars standing by. There were 66 passengers and a crew of four on board the plane. The passengers were taken to Brussels the following morning on board a scheduled flight.

AirBaltic said in a statement last week that it has finalized financing for all of its Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft, and will receive the remaining five of the total eight ordered aircraft in the coming weeks.
Bertolt Flick, president and CEO of the airline, commented that “Completing financing for the Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft was a large transaction. These new, fuel-efficient, and state-of-the-art aircraft will allow airBaltic to maintain low unit costs. This is important in an environment where fuel costs are growing and customers in our markets are becoming increasingly price-sensitive.”

The eight Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft have been purchased by Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) and will be leased to airBaltic. The value of the aircraft at list price is 212 million dollars.

Three of the aircraft purchased by NAC had been previously owned by airBaltic (value at list prices 79.5 million dollars).
AirBaltic is a joint stock company that was established in 1995. The primary shareholders are the Latvian state, with 52.6 percent of the shares, and Baltijas aviacijas sistemas, with 47.2 percent of shares. Flick is the sole owner of Baltijas aviacijas sistemas. The airBaltic fleet consists of 29 aircraft - six Boeing 737-500, eight Boeing 737-300, two Boeing 757-200, ten Fokker 50 airplanes and three Bombardier Q400Next Gen.