NEW YORK (AP) The European-made A300 Airbus jetliner was designed three decades ago to challenge American domination of commercial aviation.
Five other A300s have crashed since 1988, the year American Airlines took delivery of the plane that went down yesterday in New York. An IranAir plane was mistakenly shot down by a U.S. Navy missile cruiser in the Persian Gulf. In addition, A300s have figured in three terrorist hijackings, including the one that was ended by an Israeli military raid at Entebbe, Uganda.
The wide-bodied, twin-engine airliner and its successors, the A310 and A320, are built by the French-British consortium Airbus Industrie Ltd. Some components are manufactured in Germany and Spain, and the planes use U.S.-designed General Electric or Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the cause of yesterday’s crash appeared to have been accidental. Witnesses to the crash reported seeing an engine fall off the plane. The engines, which are located under each wing, were made by GE.
GE was not aware of any recent operational problems with its CF6-80C2 engine, said Rick Kennedy, spokesman at the headquarters of GE Aircraft Engines in suburban Cincinnati.
The company’s jet engine division sent two flight safety investigators to New York to help the NTSB investigate the crash.
American Airline spokesman Al Becker said the left engine had gone 694 hours since its last overhaul; the right engine had gone 9,788 hours. The engines are typically overhauled every 10,000 hours.
The plane that crashed entered service on July 12, 1988, and was new at the time. It was checked Sunday, had a heavier maintenance check on Oct. 3 and a major overhaul in December 1999, Mr. Becker said.
The Airbus 300 was introduced in 1969 for testing and went into commercial service five years later.
The A300s can be configured to carry 220 to 360 passengers and a crew of about 10, including two pilots. The 17-foot-wide fuselage may have up to nine seats across.
The American Airlines A300 that crashed after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport carried 260 persons, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The first incident involving an A300 was an Air France flight hijacked in June 1976 while en route to Tel Aviv and taken to Entebbe. Israeli commandos flew into Uganda and freed 258 hostages. Seven passengers and the terrorists were killed.
On July 3, 1988, the missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down an IranAir A300 over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 on board. A Pentagon inquiry found the cruiser’s weapons system computer misidentified the plane as an Iranian fighter.
Hijackers seized another Air France A300 at Algiers on Christmas Eve 1994, killing three of the 267 passengers before commandos took control and killed four hijackers.
Five years later, hijackers in India took over a domestic Indian Airlines A300 after take off from Katmandu, Nepal. One of the 173 passengers was killed.
Other A300 crashes:
A Pakistan International Airlines jet crashed on approach to Katmandu on Sept. 28, 1992, killing all 167 on board.
A China Airlines jet crashed on approach to Nagoya, Japan, on April 26, 1994, killing 15 crew and 249 passengers. Fifteen passengers survived.
A Garuda Airlines jet hit a mountain during approach to Medan, Indonesia, on Sept. 26, 1997, killing all 12 crew and 222 passengers.
A China Airlines jet crashed on approach to Taipei, Taiwan.