The kind of plane involved in the case of the disappeared Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 has been involved in 54 flight incidents -- 11 associated with fatalities -- since Airbus Group NV gave the aircraft its debut in 1988, according to a database maintained by the Flight Safety Foundation. The missing AirAsia plane, aka QZ8501, is an Airbus A320-200, a model that has been flown some 85 million times since its first flight, the France-based aerospace company said. The Airbus model hasn’t crashed in six years, and has a “formidably good” safety record when putting the amount of incidents in perspective with the millions of flights flown on the aircraft, the Independent said.
Maybe the best way to assess the Airbus A320-200’s safety record is to weigh it against the Boeing 737-400, its main competitor, which also entered service in 1988. Since then, the Boeing 737-400 has had 29 flight incidents -- eight associated with fatalities -- according to the Flight Safety Foundation database.
Airbus said in a statement it shipped the A320-200 to Indonesia AirAsia in 2008 and that the plane that went missing Sunday had accumulated about 23,000 flight hours and logged 13,600 flights. The plane is a twin-engine, single-aisle aircraft that seats as many as 180 passengers.
Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 took off from Surabaya, Indonesia, and was bound for Singapore. It was carrying 162 people when it lost contact with air-traffic control Sunday at 6:24 a.m. local time (Saturday at 6:24 p.m. EST). The plane was flying over the Java Sea and has yet to be located. Bad weather and nighttime skies led to a suspension in the search for the missing aircraft.
If the plane were found to have crashed with fatalities, it would mark the first time AirAsia has had a fatal crash. For the Airbus A320-200, it would be the 12th fatal incident.
The last fatal crash of an Airbus A320-200 was in connection with a test flight at Perpignan Airport in France in 2008. Everybody on board -- five passengers and two crew members -- was killed when the pilot lost control during the landing in what was the sixth-worst accident involving the Airbus model, according to the Flight Safety Foundation database.
“AirAsia has had a good safety record,” Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor for Flightglobal, an airline industry publication, told the Wall Street Journal. “Indonesia’s safety record has been on the blemish due to some previous incidents, but AirAsia is a very well-run carrier and [Indonesia AirAsia] has escaped safety issues so far.”