PARIS, March 31 -- The crash of a Romanian Tarom Airlines jetliner near Bucharest Friday was the third fatal disaster involving an Airbus A310 in commercial service since the series was first introduced 12 years ago. It was also the ninth crash involving passenger fatalities of any Airbus plane since the French-based European consortium began operations in the early 1970s, an Airbus spokesman said. All 48 passengers and 11 crew members were killed when the Tarom Airlines A310-300 jetliner crashed early Friday in a snowstorm shortly after takeoff from Otopeni airport near Bucharest on a flight to Brussels. An Airbus spokesman in the southern French city of Toulouse said the aircraft involved had entered service with Tarom in April 1994, the third of three of the same type bought by the airline. It was originally delivered to another airline in 1987, and had accumulated more than 31,000 flight hours in some 6,200 flights since then. It was powered by Pratt and Whitney PW4000 engines. The twin-engine wide-body A310, capable of carrying 220 passengers, first entered service in March 1983. Since then 248 A310s have been delivered and the type is currently in service with 37 operators worldwide. There have been two previous accidents of A310s involving passenger fatalities. In July, 1992, a Thai Airways International airliner of the same type crashed in bad weather as it was approaching Katmandu airport, killing all 113 people on board. In March last year, 75 people died when an Airbus A310 of the Russian airline Aeroflot crashed in Siberia on a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow.
According to flight transcripts, the pilot had allowed his son to take the controls of the plane prior to the accident. Also last year, another Tarom Airlines Airbus escaped disaster when it suffered a hard landing at Paris' Orly airport after suddenly losing altitude. Romanian authorities attributed that incident to a failure in the automatic navigation system, but French authorities concluded last November that there were no malfunctions on the plane. Airbus Industrie has sent a team of specialists to Bucharest to help Romanian authorities with their investigation into the Friday's disaster. Airbus Industrie is the chief competitor of the U.S.-based Boeing Corp.