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Gulf Air Airbus Crashes into Persian GulfAired August 23, 2000 - 1:56 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go back to our breaking news story now that we've just been telling you about within the past ten minutes. A Gulf Air Airbus A-320 that was leaving Bahrain, going to Cairo, evidently a fire was in the engine, that's the information that we received from Bahrain. The plane, here is a picture of it, crashed near Bahrain International Airport right into the Persian sea. Right now, we are told a rescue mission has begun. We don't know how many passengers were on board. We don't know why the plane went down. And we know, though, that it does hold up to 180 passengers but still has not confirmed a number -- Natalie.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we have people we've talked with in Bahrain, we'll talk with again who are trying to get us more information on any rescue effort that is under way.
Right now we are going to talk with CNN's aviation analyst Susan Coughlin.
Susan are you with us?
SUSAN COUGHLIN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I am.
ALLEN: Tell us about this A-320? how different is it from airplanes that many people in the U.S. fly like the 767, 737?
COUGHLIN: Well, it's actually quite a popular airplane. It's one of -- the A-320 is -- there are four models in the A-320 family, the 18, the 19, the 20, and the 21. The A-320 itself is sort of a mid-range airplane, about 150 passengers, as you've pointed out, has a range of about 300 nautical miles. It's a single aisle airplane, not considered a jumbo jet. And it's been a reliable, very popular airplane, both increasing use in the United States and certainly internationally, in Europe. As you know, Airbus is major competition and goes head-to-head with Boeing and increasing in popularity. And certainly the A-320 is among the popular airplanes.
ALLEN: So it has a good track record?
COUGHLIN: It does, it's a good airplane.
ALLEN: Well, what about the engines? the person we just talked with with the ministry of information in Bahrain said that they have an initial report already that there was fire in one of the engines, is that an automatic catastrophe if a plane is taking off. COUGHLIN: Well it depends on what kind of a fire it is and how early it's detected. Obviously it can be catastrophic. I think it's very premature to conclude that there was an engine fire. As you know, it is very preliminary information. This airplane comes with a number of available engines the customer can select. So we don't even know at this point what kind of engine it was and what the track record of that engine is. So, again, very preliminary at this point.
ALLEN: Right, if that were the case, could the pilot try to abort the take-off. I'm certain a lot of people are thinking right now about a very different airplane, that being the Concorde, though, still fresh on people's mind and that disaster in Paris.
COUGHLIN: Well, again, it depends on when the fire is detected, at what point in the take-off the fire is detected. If it is detected early enough, the pilot can -- the captain can make the decision to reject the takeoff. In addition, if it's detected in a enough time that the plane is still flyable, he can shut that engine down. The plane is certified to fly on one engine. So a safe emergency in a number of scenarios could be made. But again, it's so preliminary, it's really hard to know what the circumstances might have been in this particular case. But it sounds like its unfolding fairly quickly.
ALLEN: Certainly, and do you know how many people are usually in the cockpit of these planes?
ALLEN: Two people, there's our map there. You can see it was taking off from Bahrain and that's where have the square there, where this airplane crashed into the Gulf. It was headed to Cairo, Egypt, today. But something went terribly awry.
And we just received word that this A-320 has crashed into the water. Susan Coughlin, we will continue to talk with you as we get more information. There's more details we can talk with you about. But we've just received word about this plane crash, oh, about 10 minutes ago.
The ministry of information not even able to tell us yet about rescue effort, or how far into the water this airplane crashed. It is information we should be able to get shortly this afternoon. And we'll continue to bring you further details.
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