Two Outta Three Ain't Bad?
There's been a lot of discussion online about the configuration the crew chose to land the airplane in. Some of this has amounted to Monday morning quarterbacking by the uninformed: on FlightInfo, "The Russian" was vigorously arguing that the crew should've secured both engines and made a deadstick landing (and should've touched down softer as well!). Of course, on a Q400, shutting down both engines results in the loss of all AC power, most DC power, all hydraulics, and your job. More reasonable people (like Olli from my comments) have asked whether the crew should've at least secured the right engine to prevent the spectacular prop fragmentation and engine fire seen on the video of the Ålborg crash.
I personally think the Ålborg crew did a fine job. Reports indicate that they followed the alternate gear extension and emergency landing checklists to a tee; if SAS checklists are like ours, they don't direct you to secure the engines until after the airplane has come to a stop, which you can clearly see them doing in the video. Beforehand, they moved the passengers to the left side of the airplane and away from the prop arc, which isn't in the checklist and indicates that they were mindful of the danger from the prop disintegrating. There is a Kevlar shield on the fuselage along the prop arc, but it's intended to prevent dings from ice chunks, and indeed one section of prop blade ended up penetrating the cabin. Thanks to the crew's precautions, it didn't injure anybody. As for the engine fire, CFR crews were right there to quickly extinguish it.
Interestingly, the Vilnius crew did secure the right engine before landing. Of course, they had the hindsight of the Ålborg crash three days prior. The Vilnius plane suffered much less damage, mostly due to the right prop not turning but also due to a softer touchdown (more luck than anything in a Megawhacker) and the slight left bank on landing. If you've never flown a twin engine airplane, it's standard procedure to slightly bank into the good engine when you have one secured, as this produces zero sideslip and decreases the rudder pressure required to keep going straight. Now, shutting down an engine isn't in the Emergency & Abnormal checklist, but is the sort of decision the Captain has the power to make in an emergency. In this case it worked out so everybody is saying how smart the Captain is. If it exacerbated the situation everybody would be jumping all over him or her for not just following the checklist.
The alternate gear extension checklist actually directs the pilots to make a belly landing if they can't lower both mains. The Ålborg video clearly demonstrates why: to avoid catching a wingtip and losing directional control while still at significant forward speed. It turns out that in both of these incidents, the landing gear wouldn't retract. The crews were forced to land on the nosewheel and left main.
Although the grounding was originally voluntary, Transport Canada has issued an emergency airworthiness directive that requires the visual inspection of all Megawhackers in addition to the detailed inspection of those that have over 10,000 cycles on the airframe. At least we finally have a description of the inspection so our maintenance crews can get to work. We cancelled another 140 flights today, but it sounds like we'll start getting planes back on the line by tomorrow. So it seems like I will indeed be flying my last trip on Sunday through Wednesday.