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A300 has mixed history

By
United Press International

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- There is no clear evidence that a "specific problem" caused American Airlines 587 with 246 passengers and nine crew to crash Monday, a top aviation official said.

There is "nothing indicative of a specific problem," Marion Blakey, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board said at a news conference.

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Blakey said NTSB investigators were on site and would conduct a full investigation from a system and mechanical standpoint, "pulling all maintenance records."

Meanwhile, France's Airbus Industrie is sending its experts to assist in the crash investigation, a spokesman for the Toulouse-based company said.

Spokesman Jerome Rondeau told United Press International that an unspecified number of mechanical experts, along with members of France's accident investigation board, BEA, would be traveling soon to the site of the American Airlines crash in Queens, New York.

The A300-600 ... # N14053 entered service on July 12, 1988, Al Becker, an American Airlines spokesman said. He said the plane underwent a routine check on Nov. 11.

The previous detailed check for heavier maintenance was on Oct. 3. The plane's latest major overhaul was on Dec. 9, 1999, Becker said. It was due for another check in July 2002.

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Becker said the plane's Number 1 engine had 694 hours on it since the previous overhaul; its Number 2 engine had 9,788 hours. The typical overhaul time period is 10,000 hours.

The plane was delivered to American Airlines on July 12, 1988.

The crash is the first involving Airbus in the United States. The last A-300 accident occurred Feb 12, 2000, aboard a Air Afrique flight at Dakar, Senegal. There were no casualties. The last fatal A300 crash occurred Feb. 16, 1988, aboard a China Airlines flight in Taipei, Taiwan. There were 196 fatalities in that incident.

The A-300 is made by Airbus Industrie, a European consortium, and has been a popular midsize aircraft for many countries operating regional airlines since production began in the 1970s. American Airlines has 35 of the craft.

Rondeau told UPI he had no knowledge of previous mechanical problems involving the aircraft.

"This type of aircraft -- the A-300-600 -- there has been no problem," he said, "up till now, no."

The A300 has been involved in several incidents in the United States, however, and in a number of fatal accidents and terrorism-related incidents abroad.

The following is a list of incidents involving the A300s since 1996 obtained from the National Transportation Safety Board Web site and other sources.

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-- A fire aboard American Airlines Airbus A300B4-605R on Nov. 20, 2000, killed a flight attendant. The captain of the flight, which was on its way from Miami to Port Au Prince, Haiti, said neither cabin pressurization controllers could control cabin pressure. He returned to Miami shortly after takeoff. During the return to Miami, the flight attendant call chime continually chimed erratically and the forward lavatory smoke detector sounded, the preliminary NTSB report said. A fire was reported after landing.

-- American Airlines Airbus A300-605 experienced turbulence on Oct. 27, 1999, in Miami. One passenger, who was walking in the aisle at the time, was seriously injured.

-- A China Airlines Airbus A300B4-62R crashed during a go-around on Feb. 16, 1998 in Taiwan. Reduced visibility was blamed. All 15 crew and 182 passengers were killed.

-- On July 9, 1998, an American Airlines Airbus A300 lost an engine during a flight in London for unknown reasons, the NTSB said. On landing it taxied off the runway, its brakes caught fire and all main landing gear tires deflated.

-- On Sept. 28, 1998, American Airlines Airbus A300-600 reported an incident in Paris in which the trimmable horizontal stabilizer became out of limits during takeoff roll. The takeoff was aborted; four tires were blown and three brakes were damaged.

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-- On April 20, 1998, an incident on an American Airlines A300-600 between New York and London caused no injuries. The navigational system malfunctioned, but the crew activated the secondary flight plan.

-- On Nov. 27, 1998, a Korean Airlines Airbus A300-600 experienced an inflight thrust reverse activation in Jakarta, Indonesia.

-- According to the NTSB, the crew's failure to maintain adequate airspeed during level off led to an inadvertent stall and an accident on American Airlines A300B4-605R on May 12, 1997, in West Palm Beach, Fla. There was one serious and one minor injury.

-- On July 30, 1997, an Emirates Airlines A-300-600 aborted takeoff in Saudi Arabia because of an error in load calculations. There were no injuries.

-- Separation of the landing gear tire tread during the takeoff roll and its subsequent ingestion into the intake of the engine caused a loud bang on Pan American World Airways on Aug. 24, 1997, in Los Angeles. There were no injuries. The flight was aborted after the right-hand engine failed.

-- On Sept. 26, 1997, a Garuda Indonesian Airways A300-B4 cashed near Medan, Indonesia. Reduced visibility was blamed. All 12 crewmembers and 222 passengers were killed.

-- On April 26, 1994, a China Airlines A300-600 crashed near Nagoya, Japan. Crew error was blamed; 15 crew and 249 of the 264 passengers were killed.-- On Sept. 28, 1992, Pakistan International Airlines A300-B4 crashed near Katmandu, Nepal. Reduced visibility and crew error were blamed. All 12 crew and 155 passengers were killed.

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-- Turbulence contributed to one injury aboard Eastern Air Lines Airbus A300B4-203 near Indianapolis on March 29, 1987.

The aircraft has also been involved in four highly publicized incidents involving fatalities.

-- On June 27, 1976, Air France A300 was hijacked to Entebbe, Uganda. All aboard were taken hostage. An Israeli commando raid freed some. Seven of the 258 passengers were killed.

-- On Dec. 24, 1994, Air France A300 was hijacked to Algiers, Algeria; three of the 267 passengers were killed. Commandos later stormed the aircraft and killed four hijackers.

-- On July 3, 1998, Iranair A300 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from the USS Vincennes near the Straits of Hormuz. All 16 crew and 274 passengers were killed.

-- On Dec. 24, 1999, Indian Airlines A300 was hijacked from Katmandu, Nepal, shortly after takeoff. One of the 173 passengers was killed.

(With reporting by Frank Sietzen, Jr., in Washington.)

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