Rumble: The plane with the shortest life, crashed before its first take-off

Those of you frequently reading this blog, know I am a frequent traveller. There were times, I averaged 40 flights a month. That is why I frequently post stuff about planes, airports and air travel in general...

As an aidworker, I often fly "bush planes", "special charters", or at least fly in areas where ummm... air travel might not be as strictly controlled as it should be. I gave some examples in The Road's short story "Italians, the art of flying and the laws of probability".

However, this story, beats all odds:

Back in November last year, a brand new Airbus A340-600 from Etihad left the Airbus factory hanger in Toulouse, France. It had never flown before, and was being tested by its crew, who were to pick up the plane for its final testing. According to a friend, here is what happened:

The crew of nine taxied out to the run-up area. They took all four engines to takeoff power with a virtually an empty aircraft. This was their first mistake as they obviously didn't read the run-up manuals and had no clue just how light an empty Airbus really is.

No chocks were set, not that it would have mattered at that power setting. Even the brakes would not hold at full power.

As it turns out, the takeoff warning horn was blaring away in the cockpit because the aircraft computers thought they were trying to takeoff but the flaps, slats etc.. had not been configured properly.

Then one of the crew decided to pull the 'Ground Sense' circuit breaker to silence the alarms. This fooled the aircraft into thinking it was in the air. That was the crew's last mistake: as soon as they did that, the computers automatically released all the brakes and set the aircraft rocketing forward. There was no time to stop and no one smart enough to throttle back the engines from their max power setting. So the rest is as you see it below: the plane, still with zero airmiles on its counter, propelled onto a concrete wall, and broke into pieces.

I can not imagine how the telephone call from the pilot to his boss must have sounded like: "Eh, boss, remember the new A340 we were supposed to pick up from the factory? Eh.. do you think we could get another one?"

It really makes me wonder if flying is a science, a craft or an art!

etihad crash
etihad crash
etihad crash


Anonymous,  30 May, 2008 23:18  

I am in complete admiration for your contribution and the help that you provide to people around the world. However, I was looking through your posts going back over the past year, and I noticed not one mention of the Gaza blockade and resulting humanitarian situation that former President Carter and Archbishop Tutu have both described as criminal.

You mention every other humanitarian catastrophe that has occurred over the past few months, and of course you dwell quite consistently on the Darfur situation, which is the current cause celeb among the Hollywood crowd. And once again, I applaud you for that-- in spite of its popularity with Mia Farrow and Angelina Jolie, its still one of the most serious situations that exists today.

But is there some reason why you completely ignore the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza, who are suffering an entirely human-caused resource shortage? Is it because you don't want to offend wealthy donors to the "International Humanitarian Organization" that you work for?

Peter 30 May, 2008 23:29  

Hi Madrid,

You are right about the lack of coverage on my blog on the Gaza blockade, even though I blogged on the Palestine issue several times... But not sufficiently to represent the suffering.

Will do!

And no, there is no particular reason. I am always more than happy to confront no matter who if I think they are not right in what they do.

Thanks for your comment!


Voegtli 31 May, 2008 05:34  

I am in the same boat as you. Frequent flying, bush planes, helicopters and so forth. I enjoy your airplane stories. This one beats it all. I had not heard about this. And I can imagine the crews phone call to the boss. I am sure that he did not congratulate them. Perhaps only for having made nice pictures.

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