Airbus Model Has Imperfect Safety Record
11/12/2001 08:29 PM
There have been concerns in the past about the type of aircraft involved in Monday's American Airlines crash in the Rockaways, Queens. NY1 Investigative Reporter Jeff Simmons filed this report on the history of the Airbus A-300.
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
The Airbus A-300 has a deadly history: five fatal crashes within the last decade, including Monday's.
The Federal Aviation Administration has raised serious concerns about possible explosions on the twin-engine jet. Twice this year, the FAA issued emergency directives and ordered airline operators to modify crafts.
Just this September, the FAA required changes to electrical connectors attached to fuel sensors to "prevent the possibility of the sensors overheating and the possibility of an explosion."
And last April, another directive: the FAA citing a problem that could cause multiple engines to fail during takeoff or while a plane climbed.
It's too early to tell what role, if any, these problems may have played in Monday's crash.
Since 1972, more than 500 Airbus A-300's have been built in France, and they are known for their highly automated cockpits. American Airlines has a fleet of 35. The one involved in the Rockaways crash first went into service three years ago.
The Airbus A-300 has been involved four earlier deadly accidents. In February 1998, China Airlines Flight 676 crashed in Taiwan. 205 people were killed in the accident.
In the fall of 1997, a Garuda Indonesian Airways A-300 crashed and killed 234 people.
In 1994, another crash involved a China Airlines A-300, this time in Japan, when pilots tried to abort a landing and fly the plane manually. However, the autopilot had been engaged and 264 people died when the Airbus crashed.
Finally, in September 1992 a Pakistan International A-300 struck a mountain in Nepal. 167 people were killed.
All of those accidents involved planes that had been poised to land, but Monday's crash took place just after takeoff.
This is the second time American Airlines has dealt with a serious A-300 problem. In July 1998, an engine caught fire on a Miami-bound A-300 flight, and pilots were forced to land in Puerto Rico. That flight had the same type of engine installed in the craft that crashed in Queens Monday morning.
The National Transportation Safety Board said that craft's engine had not been overhauled properly. The NTSB in part faulted American Airlines for not monitoring to make sure the engine was installed correctly.
- Jeff Simmons