UK airline happy to carry on with Q400 fleet

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Exeter-based airline Flybe is carrying on flying the world's biggest fleet of the type of plane involved in the US aircraft crash.

Flybe has 49 of the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft which it uses for domestic and short-haul European routes, including Belfast-Manchester and Exeter-Manchester.

It was a Continental Connection Q400 flying from Newark in New Jersey to Buffalo that crashed into someone's home in Buffalo in New York state, killing all 49 people aboard and one person on the ground.

Flybe said: "We have been in contact with the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) during the course of the day, who are completely satisfied with the Flybe Q400 fleet which we continue to operate as normal.

"Flybe can confirm that its Q400 fleet has flown more than a third of a million flights without any serious incident."

The 400 series version of the Dash 8 entered service in January 2000 and a total of 230 have so far been delivered to airline customers worldwide. A further 114 aircraft are on order for airline customers with an additional 129 on option and 49 the subject of announced letters of intent.

This is the first Dash 8 Q400 accident to involve loss of life. However, two Q400s were written off in 2007 after accidents while landing.

One of these - at Aalborg in Denmark in September 2007 - involved Scandinavian airline SAS which later withdrew their Q400s from service.

Any safety implications emerging from the investigation into the Buffalo crash will be passed to the manufacturer and all airlines involved with the American Federal Aviation Administration. This body will keep the UK's Civil Aviation Authority informed.

Over the last few years there has been a big move by airlines operating on shorter routes away from the use of small jets to propeller-driven planes, such as the Q400.

Manufacturers found that these turboprop planes were selling well as they are cheaper to run.