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Saturday 16 December 2017

Airbus A320: Short-haul workhorse with one of aviation industry's best safety records

A British Airways Airbus A320. Photo: Deposit
A British Airways Airbus A320. Photo: Deposit

The Airbus A320 - one of which has disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea with 66 people on board - is a short-haul workhorse with one of the industry's best safety records.

The model is a twin-engine, single-aisle plane seating 150 passengers in a standard two-class configuration. It is powered by CFM 56-5A1 engines.

It comes from the world's best-selling single-aisle aircraft family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321.

The 6,000-strong fleet has accumulated more than 150 million flight hours in over 85 million flights.

While accidents caused by mechanical failure are rare, A320s have been involved in 68 incidents since being introduced in 1988, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

A male passenger hijacked a plane and forced it to make an unauthorised landing in Cyprus in March. None of the 64 crew and passengers on board the EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo were harmed.

In March last year, 150 passengers and crew died when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed Germanwings flight 4U9525 into the French Alps.

Lubitz had locked the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately set the plane on a collision course with the mountainside.

An Airbus A320 operated by AirAsia Indonesia crashed into the Java Sea on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore in December 2014. All 162 people on board Flight QZ8501 were killed.

The accident was caused by a problem with the rudder control system, coupled with the pilots' response, according to Indonesian investigators.

An A320 ditched into the Hudson River in New York after hitting a flock of geese and suffering an engine failure in January 2009.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger was hailed a hero after safely landing the aircraft in the water. None of the 150 passengers and crew were seriously hurt.

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