Another Croatia Airlines emergency

The problematic Croatia Airlines Dash8
On Friday, January 23 a Croatia Airlines Dash8-Q400, a new aircraft, experienced yet another technical problem on route from Zagreb to Pula. Although such problems occur on a daily basis across the aviation world this incident is particularly worrying as the same aircraft has experienced an emergency for a second time in as many months. Many now believe that critics were right when they disapproved of Croatia Airlines’ choice of aircraft, with this particular type being withdrawn from service by major European carriers due to its unreliable safety record. In September, 2008 the same aircraft experienced problems because the fuel on board overheated. The exact cause of the latest emergency is unknown and Croatia Airlines has decided to stay quiet on the issue and not comment. The Dash8 joined the fleet in May 2008.

Croatia Airlines has released a short statement that it is perfectly normal for new aircraft to have technical glitches in its first year of operation. This statement is supported by Dinko Vodanović, an air crash investigator. He states that new aircraft have problems in their first year because they need time to get adjusted to the new conditions. Vodanović uses the example of Jat’s ATR72s, which were purchased in the early 90s and experienced minor technical problems once they entered service. Today they are the most reliable aircraft in Jat’s fleet.

Scandinavian Airlines SAS had particular problems with the Dash8. In 2007 a total of 3 Dash8-400s had landing gear failures. Immediately after these incidents SAS grounded all their 33 Dash-8-Q400 airliners and, a few hours later, Bombardier recommended that all Dash-8-Q400s with more than 10.000 flights be grounded until further notice. Last year Croatia Airlines had a total of 4 major emergencies – 2 with the now retired ATR42s, one with an A319 and one with the above mentioned aircraft. The Q400 costs 22 million Euros.