Wednesday 26 June 2024

Remembering Air France Flight 296Q


Air France Flight 296Q was a chartered flight of a brand-new Airbus A320-111 operated by Air Charter International for Air France. On the 26th of June 1988, the plane crashed while making a low-level pass over Mulhouse–Habsheim Airfield as part of the Habsheim Air Show. The newly delivered Airbus was destroyed when it impacted trees during the low pass over the runway. A fire broke out, killing three occupants.

This particular flight was the A320's first passenger flight and most of those on board were journalists and raffle competition winners, having won tickets as part of a promotional event by local businesses. Many, including several unaccompanied children, had never been on an airplane previously. The low-speed flyover, with landing gear down, was supposed to take place at an altitude of 100 feet (30 m); instead, the plane performed the flyover at 30 ft (9 m), skimmed the treetops of the forest at the end of the runway (which had not been shown on the airport map given to the pilots) and crashed. 

All 136 passengers survived the initial impact, but 3 then died of smoke inhalation from the subsequent fire; a quadriplegic boy in seat 4F, a 7-year-old little girl in seat 8C, trapped by her seat being pushed forward and struggling to open the seatbelt, and an adult who, according to her partner, had reached the exit with him but then turned back to try help the 7 year old. (The child had been traveling with her older brother but seated apart; he was swept out by a flow of escapees as he tried to find his sister).

The aircraft first flew on the 6th of January 1988 and was delivered to Air France on the 23rd of June, three days prior to its destruction. It was the third A320 delivered to Air France, the launch customer.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: Air France
Code: AF/AFR
Aircraft: Airbus A320-211
Registration: F-GFKC
Serial Number: 009
Engines: CFMI CFM56-5A1
First Flew: 6th January 1988
Age: 6 months

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