Bombardier Q400 planes have had few prior problems

Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:52pm EST
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian plane maker Bombardier Inc said on Friday the crash of one of its Dash 8 Q400 turboprop aircraft near Buffalo, New York, on Thursday night, which killed 50 people, was the first fatal crash involving that type of plane, although it has had some safety problems.

A spokesman for Bombardier said 220 of the Q400 turboprops have been delivered to 30 airlines around the world.

Over nine years of flights, the fleet had logged more than 1 million flying hours and 1.5 million takeoff cycles without a fatal accident, said Bombardier spokesman John Arnone.

The plane in the Buffalo crash was just under a year old.

The company said it has sent a product safety and technical team to the crash site to help with the investigation.

"We have singularly set for ourselves a priority, which is to deal with this tragic accident and to deal with it the best that we can by assisting the (National Transportation Safety Board) where and if required," Arnone said.

Pratt & Whitney Canada, the maker of the engine for the plane, also sent officials to the site, a spokeswoman said.

The cause of the crash was unknown.   Continued...