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LEAD: Bombardier avoids being bound on root cause of landing accident.

TOKYO, March 16 Kyodo

(EDS: UPDATING WITH NEWS CONFERENCE, RECASTING)

A senior Bombardier official made an apology on Friday over a landing-gear accident involving one of the Canadian manufacturer's planes but avoided being pinned down on when a bolt fell off the plane's door-opening mechanism to force it to make an emergency landing at a Japanese airport earlier this week.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Bombardier Vice President Todd Young said he cannot comment at this point on whether the bolt's fall-off occurred in the plane's manufacturing process or as a result of poor maintenance by Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways.

He instead offered to fully cooperate with the transport ministry's Aircraft and Railway Accidents Investigation Commission and ANA, whose subsidiary Air Central operated the DHC-8 Q400, in investigating the case.

There have been seven cases of belly landings involving DHC-8 series aircraft, which did not include any of the DHC-8 Q400 type, since the 1980s without their front landing gear deployed, Young added, though saying the causes of these accidents were unrelated to the latest case.

The Canadian manufacturer has said Q400s have never failed to extend their front landing gear to land prior to the latest accident, which occurred Tuesday at Kochi airport on the western island of Shikoku. None of the 60 people on the plane was hurt.

Bombardier has urged airlines operating the twin-turboprops worldwide to look into whether a cotter pin that fixes a bolt in the aircraft's front landing-gear assembly is in place to allow the functioning of the landing gear compartment.

Young said on Friday that so far a British airline has responded by saying that it found no problems with its Q400 fleet.

Asked if Q400 planes have had a lot of trouble, Young said most of the problems with the planes have been fixed in cooperation with ANA and that he sees no difference in safety levels between Q400s and other airplanes.

The itinerary of Bombardier's Young on Friday includes a trip to Kochi airport in the afternoon to look at the troubled 74-seater twin-turboprop firsthand and a visit later to the Kochi prefectural government.

Earlier on Friday, Young met with aviation officials at the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry in Tokyo, making an apology and expressing his company's intention to work with the Japanese side in investigating the case.

''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 outset of which was open to the media.

ANA flight 1603 from Osaka to Kochi was forced to land with its main gear only after the doors of its front landing gear had failed to open. The plane touched down and its nose scraped along the runway before coming to a halt.

Commission investigators say a bolt had somehow fallen off from the plane's door-opening mechanism, allowing a tube-shaped part called the bushing to protrude, which prevented the doors from opening to let the wheels down.

In a message dated Wednesday, Bombardier urged airlines operating its DHC-8 Q400 planes to check the nose landing-gear door mechanism to see whether a cotter pin fixing the bolt in the compartment is in place to enable the smooth functioning of the landing gear.

ANA has exchanged the pin in question as well as other pins for each of the 16 DHC-8 planes it has in its fleet. None were missing, according to company officials.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Mar 19, 2007
Words:588
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