PARIS - European planemaker Airbus has warned against speculating on the cause of an Atlantic plane crash but defended the safety record of its A330 jetliner.
An Air France A300 crashed into the Atlantic en route from Brazil to Paris on June 1, killing all 228 people on board in the world's worst aviation disaster in eight years.
It is safe to say that the aviation community is still under some shock, Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders told journalists.
And it certainly doesn't provide consolation to the families that if we look at the statistics of flying compared with 30 years ago, the statistics show that the A330 is one of the safest aircraft that has ever gone into service.
Enders was speaking on Saturday in a briefing ahead of the June 15-21 Paris Airshow alongside EADS Chief Executive Louis Gallois. Contents of the briefing were embargoed for Sunday.
The crash has cast a pall over the world's largest aviation event, adding to economic pressures which have forced airlines to cancel or defer plane orders and travel fears over swine flu.
Gallois appealed for media calm over the cause of the crash.
Please be patient, he said. Such an inquiry is long and we should not launch into ideas because it is an issue for families, colleagues and friends. They don't know if what they are reading in newspapers is true or not.
Enders said Airbus personnel had been deployed on rescue ships searching the Atlantic for bodies and wreckage and were ready to lend expertise on the jetliner if required.
We are supporting Air France. And we are supporting investigating authorities to find out what exactly happened up there in the sky, and we are hoping that the black boxes, the digital data recorder and the voice recorder, will be found soon so that we can find out what happened there, Enders said.
Any speculation undermines the work that the authorities are doing, he added.
Investigators have said the aircraft sent our automated warning messages to maintenance crews including one suggesting the speed readings were unreliable, prompting speculation that the wide-body aircraft's speed sensors may have been faulty.
Airbus last week denied a newspaper report it was thinking of grounding the worldwide fleet of almost 1,000 A330s as well as A340s, a larger sister model, to change speed sensors and said the planes were safe to fly.