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Plane crash disaster narrowly avoided
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10.09.2007 Print article (IE & NS 4+)
SAS is accused of cutting corners for maintenance after a plane crash landed in northern Jutland this weekend

Rescue workers called it ‘a stroke of luck’ nobody was seriously injured when an SAS plane crash landed in northern Jutland Sunday.

During the plane’s 30-minute flight from Copenhagen to northern Jutland, the pilot noticed a malfunction in the plane’s landing gear and informed the control tower at Aalborg Airport.

Upon landing, rescue squads were able to quickly respond when the plane’s gear failed, causing the right-hand wing to scrape the ground and burst into flame.

While 11 people were driven to hospital, Peter Reinau, the head of the airport’s emergency response team, stated the accident could have had far greater consequences for the 69 passengers and four crew members on board.

‘We were very, very close to a serious catastrophe,’ Reinau told Politiken newspaper, noting that one of the propellers from the Dash 8-Q400 built by Bombardier tore through the plane’s cabin and narrowly missed passengers.

As the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) began an investigation of the accident, it brought renewed focus on SAS maintenance procedures. Only two weeks ago, Swedish authorities had levelled a scathing critique at the airline after a plane of the same model nearly crashed because the its motor accelerated unexpectedly during landing.

Although the CAA could not offer a comment on the weekend’s accident do to the ongoing investigation, Thomas Ancker, the agency’s press spokesperson noted the airline had demonstrated ‘serious oversights’ during maintenance.

‘SAS has not lived up to the expected standard and that means the authorities have now directed their attention to the airline’s maintenance programme,’ said Ancker.

The airline reportedly made 2300 flights in which safety equipment was not up to standard.

SAS denied, however, that it has failed to live up to safety standards.

‘We can merely note that the airplanes we have in the air have the necessary certification and that we have an ongoing dialogue with the CAA,’ said Jens Langergaard, an SAS spokesperson.

Monday, passengers on a Dash 8-Q400 flight to Prague were forced to return to Kastrup airport not once, but twice, after emergency situations were detected by the aircraft's pilots.

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