The Only Flight of the Etihad Airbus

The largest passenger aircraft ever built is the Airbus 340-600.

Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi bought one for $200 million. A flight crew from Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies was sent to test the plane on the ground at the Airbus plant in Toulouse. After climbing on board, they taxied it to the static testing area and revved up all four engines to full takeoff power.

Unfortunately, they had not reviewed the testing manual, so they made a little tiny trifling booboo or two.

First, although all the engines were at full power, the plane was not configured for takeoff, i.e., flaps down and so forth. So a warning horn blasted away in the cockpit.

Second, to shut up this horn, the crew cut the circuit breaker on the Ground Proximity Sensor, which tells the plane it’s on the ground.

Third, thereupon, the plane’s computers, now believing it was taking off, released all its brakes.

Fourth, when the plane roared ahead, it did not occur to anybody in the seven-man crew to throttle back the four engines from their maximum power settings.

The Etihad 340-600 smashed into a blast barrier, wrecking the plane completely. The cockpit area, particularly, was smashed into rubble. The injuries to the crew must have been desperate, but their full extent has been suppressed by a French news blackout. ■