23 MAY 2016

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Article from BTNews 23 MAY 2016

COMMENT: Egyptair MS804

Led by Flight International magazine's David Learmount, who on TV has consistently refused to commit himself to the reason for the Egyptair Airbus A320 disaster, the media has for once been steadfastly reluctant to focus on a cause.  

Learmount  speaks with authority, an ex-RAF pilot who has followed closely most of the major air accidents over the past 30 years, including in particular Air France 447 (See BTN 2 May 2011) in November 2009, where the blame was eventually placed firmly on the pilots.

The A320 entered service in 1988 as the founding member of the Airbus single-aisle family and has proved a best-seller. As of last month, 8,089 had been ordered, 4,222 delivered and 3,959 were in operation. 

It has a range of up to 6,480km (3,500nmi) and typically seats 150 in a two-class cabin or up to 186 in a high-density layout for low-cost and charter flights.

The A320 series pioneered the use of digital fly-by-wire systems and has one of the smallest fatality rates of any family of jet aircraft.

Up to this month, 91 accidents and incidents had been recorded and up to the end of 2013 the A320 family had experienced just 0.14 fatal hull-loss accidents for every million take-offs, and 0.24 total hull-loss accidents for every million take-offs.

The Egyptair aircraft was an A320-232, registration SU-GCC, delivered to the airline by Airbus in November 2003. It was the youngest of the 11 A320s in the Egyptair fleet.

According to the Egyptian Air Accident Investigation Directorate, SU-GCC was forced to make an emergency landing in Cairo on 25 June 2013 after an engine overheated. The report blamed a technical defect in the engine. No injuries were reported.

As all this information shows, there are enough variables out there to cause any number of theories to be brought to the surface by an air accident and, as the continuing mystery of Malaysia Airlines’ MH370 proves, none can be proven in the heat of the moment.

It seems that lessons may finally have sunk home to the press, so well done Learmount. Newspapers, known for their habit of splashing eye-catching headlines, have followed his lead and have been hesitant to pronounce a verdict on a happening where the facts are not known. 

Are we in for an era of honest reporting?  Or are we being too optimistic? See 'Egyptair A320 lost' in this issue.

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