Airbus A320 reliable aircraft - aviation expert

01:43, Jan 31 2009

The Airbus A320 aircraft is one of the world's safest and most reliable passenger jets, an aviation expert says.

The Air New Zealand aircraft which crashed into the Mediterranean early today was less than four years old.

The aircraft flew for a year with Freedom Air, an Air New Zealand subsidiary, before it was leased to a German aviation company, XL Airways, two years ago.

Two XL Aviation pilots were at the controls of the aircraft when it crashed. A senior Air New Zealand captain from Auckland, two airline engineers from Christchurch and an engineer from Auckland, and a Civil Aviation Authority inspector were also on board.

The aircraft had been in the air for two hours on an acceptance flight before it was handed back to Air New Zealand later this week when it crashed.

It was in Air New Zealand livery

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Air New Zealand said today it had access to the German company's maintenance records and it had no worries about any aspects of the aircraft's performance in the last few years.

It carried about 150 passengers, six wide with a central aisle.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Bill Sommer said the A320 was "one of the most reliable and safest" aircraft in the world.

"We have a very good safety record for airline operations here in New Zealand," he said.

"If you look at the figures, the broad Oceania area is rated as the safest place for large jet aircraft, and it has for many years."

Air New Zealand had 13 Airbus A320 aircraft in its fleet, said chief executive Rob Fyfe.

- NZPA