Airbus 340-600 ADAT crash rumor: hoax or actual news?

I got the email with the convincing pictures:

The brand spanking new Airbus 340-600, the largest passenger airplane ever built, sat in its hangar in Toulouse , France without a single hour of airtime. Enter the Arab flight crew of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) to conduct pre-delivery tests on the ground, such as engine run-ups, prior to delivery to Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi .

The ADAT crew taxied the A340-600 to the run-up area. Then they took all four engines to takeoff power with a virtually empty aircraft. Not having read the run-up manuals, they had no clue just how light an empty A340-600 really is.

The takeoff warning horn was blaring away in the cockpit because they had all 4 engines at full power. The aircraft computers thought they were trying to take off but the aircraft had not been configured properly (flaps/slats, etc.) Then one of the ADAT crew decided to pull the circuit breaker on the Ground Proximity Sensor to silence the alarm.

This fooled the aircraft into thinking it was in the air. The computers automatically released all the brakes and set the aircraft rocketing forward. The ADAT crew had no idea that this is a safety feature so that pilots can’t land with the brakes on.

Not one member of the seven-man Arab crew was bright enough to throttle back the engines from their max power setting, so the $200 million brand-new aircraft crashed into a blast barrier, totaling it.

The extent of injuries to the crew is unknown for there has been a news blackout in the major media in France and elsewhere. Coverage of the story was deemed insulting to Muslim Arabs. Finally, the photos are starting to leak out.

But a Google news search for “Airbus 340-600 ADAT crash” turns up nothing. Is the internet really so powerful that we know about this incident before official news sources?

I had my doubts. I think what we have here is an example or racism – the email claims that the news is being suppressed because it is insulting to Muslims. That makes me think this is a hoax designed to insult Muslims.

A web search turned up this page on snopes.com. They claim that the photos are an actual Airbus 340 that crashed during ground tests on November 15th, 2007 but that the information in the email is made up or, at best, unconfirmed. According to Snopes the media blackout is an outright lie – although that does make me wonder why my Google news search didn’t some up with anything. Maybe because it’s such old news?

If anyone has some real news – not just from a random travel blog – please share. If I’m wrong I’ll admit it but I just don’t believe this email is real – even if the photos might be.

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Comments (47)

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  1. Julie says:

    I agree with you, Jim. And even if some of the facts of the email are correct the tone is clearly racist.

  2. keith says:

    Do a google search for “etihad A340-600” and you get loads of pictures and information about this incident. Yes, these people were complete idiots. The flight and maintenance manuals would have indicated a minimum fuel load for a static engine run up. Engines are generally brought up to power only one at a time. I have no idea what they were attempting to accomplish. There is no reason to bring 4 engines to high power on the ground at once. I would expect the manuals do not allow this. Finally, there is no ground prox circuit breaker on the flight deck of a A340. It may be routed through the LGCIU, but there is no single circuit breaker labeled as such.

    I had 14 months of exposure to students from arab countries 18 years ago. They could barely pass the tests and in fact had to resort to cheating to get through the course. This accident doesn’t suprrise me in the least.

  3. Steve says:

    It’s not a hoax and nothing to do with race.

    The URL is the French TV bit.

    Here is the Airbus Press Release:

    INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT AT AIRBUS FACILITY

    AIRBUS press release #1

    Issued at 15 November 2007, 20:15

    Accident at Saint-Martin Airbus site

    Toulouse: Airbus deeply regrets to confirm that an accident occurred at its Saint-Martin site in Toulouse this afternoon.

    The accident occurred at 5:00 pm local time, when engine-run-ups were being carried out on an A340-600, MSN 856, which was due to be delivered to Etihad in the coming days.

    There were nine persons on board out of them five people sustained injuries. There are no fatalities.

    At this time, recovery operations are still in progress and Airbus staff is working closely with the emergency services and local authorities at the site.

    Airbus expresses its sympathy to the families and friends of the persons concerned.

    Airbus will provide the full support to the official investigation authorities in France.

  4. Kurt says:

    Of course this is a hoax. There is no such thing as a “media blackout” in Democracies like France etc. Smartly written article, but of course full of facts which cannot be right. How do you want to pull a circuit breaker on an aircraft? As if you’d be able to locate in the cockpit. Anyway, funny article but frankly anyone who thinks this is real deserves a light slap on the head… 😉

  5. Ari says:

    I think someone did a great job with Photoshop. I’m not buying the failure mode of that fuselage, with that type of impact. Plus, you don’t get to bring a crew to “test” a brand new plane that hasn’t completed their certs on that aircraft yet. And sorry but NO ONE has the ability to shut up the press, especially if the opportunity exists to embarrass someone.

  6. KB Nahs says:

    Actually the comment was prejudiced not racist. The former generalizes a racial group based on common OR assumed characteristics, the latter is an assumption that one group is different or better then another racial group.

  7. victor says:

    I just search for this in google news and got this http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2007/11/16/afx4347700.html

  8. flake says:

    HOAX.

    A big media coverage occured and is fairly easy to retrieve: “A340 Etihad; toulouse”: 28300 results.

    Most details are available there.

    Anyway the mistake are not the one described in this racist communication.

  9. Californiagirl says:

    Search Google News “Archives” for 2007

    11/16/2007

    AIRBUS CRASH IN FRANCE

    Ten Injured in Ground Test

    A crash during the testing of a new Airbus jet has left 10 people injured, three seriously, in the French city of Toulouse. French investigators are looking into the cause of the accident.

    AP

    The Airbus A340-600 destined for delivery to Etihad Airlines failed to pass its last tests on Nov. 15 at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport.

    Ten people were injured on Thursday afternoon, when an Airbus 340-600 crashed through a barrier and rammed into a wall during tests of the plane at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport, in France.

    French government officials reported that the nine people on board, including three seriously, and one person on the ground were injured. But none of the injuries were life threatening.

    The plane was undergoing its last set of tests before being delivered to Etihad Airlines, and seven of the passengers on board were employees of the Abu Dhabi-based carrier.

    The accident happened when the airplane’s four engines were throttled up and the brakes applied. Airbus Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier said that the plane lurched into the barrier and wall “for reasons still unknown.”

    France’s environment and transportation minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, “immediately requested” a technical investigation into the causes of the accident, which took place near Airbus headquarters.

    The Airbus A340 is the Tolouse-based company’s first four-engine plane, and it has been in production since 1991. The A340-600 model is the longest passenger aircraft in the world, seating up to 472 passengers. Seventy-four are currently in operation — mainly in the fleets of Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.

    nmb/dpa/ap

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,517772,00.html

  10. Ian says:

    Who knows if this is real or not. I do feel compelled to respond to “Kurt” who says, “As if you’d be able to locate in the cockpit.” (He is referring to circuit breakers.) Well, Kurt, as a long-time pilot, I can tell you that they are actually quite easy to find and are actually part of the checklist on most, if not all, aircraft. Considering this was allegedly during a run-up/test, it would be possible. It would be more plausible that a crew would have simply silenced the alarm. Please note that I am not type rated in the Airbus, but; this is all pretty basic anyway.

  11. Alex says:

    Quoted from above: “I think someone did a great job with Photoshop. I’m not buying the failure mode of that fuselage, with that type of impact. Plus, you don’t get to bring a crew to “test” a brand new plane that hasn’t completed their certs on that aircraft yet. And sorry but NO ONE has the ability to shut up the press, especially if the opportunity exists to embarrass someone.”

    Give me a break… Some people don’t even believe the pictures are real. LOL.

  12. Dave says:

    And if the first picture (a genuine Airbus) is meant to represent the same aircraft as in the crash shots, it’s livery is different, with no triple-lines, as are clearly visible under the windows of the crashed aircraft. A cunning attempt to smear a foreign aircrew maybe?

    The truth is out there!

  13. Dennis says:

    This is not a Hoax and happened over a year ago. A close friend of our family who is a retired airline pilot with one of the major airlines happened to be at the Aibus facility in Toulouse the day this happened. It is real and there were alot of major injuries. The pilots were idiots.

  14. Sam says:

    As someone very familiar with Etihad, having several good friends working for them, I can tell you the article is part hoax (intended to trash arabs/muslims) and part true.

    True, the aircraft was totaled due to the test crew not following procedures when doing the engine run up.

    True, there were some Arabs on board (the customer)..

    False, it was them at the controls… That was a French, Airbus crew.

    Furthermore, 99% of the pilots at Etihad are either Ameriacn, or EU residence.. To call this anything other than Xenophobia would be to put it nicely.

  15. Bill says:

    Probably true, I worked with Bell Helicopters in UAE, training pilots in the late 70’s early 80’s. Most of them had no business behind the controls of a aircraft. Prefight, checklists, emergency procedures were never followed. Overtorques, overtemps, and accidents were common.

    It’s not racist, its their attitude.

  16. Rachel says:

    Isn’t it so easy to take an old story, some old photos, add in some new unrelated information (make of the airplane and ethnicity of the crew) to over dramatise the event push an racist agenda.

    I’m glad there are blogs like this that question reports, and that there are people like us who bother to take a few minutes to find out more about the emails that circulate.

    Pity about the people (Bill and Keith) who deem the whole story is true because of their own personal unfavourable experience with Arabs. I hope they have better experiences in the future.

  17. DCF says:

    The zero flight time in the first sentence is a dead giveaway. An aircraft manufacturer doesn’t hand over to a customer a newly built aircraft without flight-checking it first.

  18. Trishster says:

    Don’t know about what happened on the inside of the plane to ’cause’ this accident, but I do know the accident was real and the pics are real…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7098547.stm

    There are many news reports about it.. none seem to add anything about the ‘arab’ bit.. so that perhaps is a hoax, but it was a test flight and the pics are real.

  19. dave says:

    You will find that most pilots flying with Etihad are Western a lot of ex NZ air force guys fly Etihad, not to mention all the yanks on the pay roll.

  20. Not a says:

    New Zealand doesn’t have a real air force so it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them were behind the wheel as well as the arabs (who take offense to everything, example: They go to live in a country like england and a neighbour puts up an English flag in their window, they take offense and make them take it down).

  21. Bob says:

    Arab or not the pilots were obviously idiots. To think they actually transport human traffic around the world is pretty scary.

    Also if you believe that news cannot be covered up then you’re a fool. Name me one airline that would want the public to know they employ idiots.

    Oh and if the pictures are fake in this email, how come there are different angle shots taken at different times of the day on various different web sites.

    Example:-

    http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/3706006/1/

    some people

  22. Jose Chupacabra says:

    “How do you want to pull a circuit breaker on an aircraft? As if you’d be able to locate in the cockpit.”

    Never flown anything that large but it is common to pull circuit breakers in smaller aircraft. Wires break, switches fail, and even DO-178 class A software has bugs.

  23. Darko Sevic says:

    There is nothing in any of the press releases which would discredit the email rumor that the arab employees of ADAT screwed up big time. The details in the email rumor are all plausible. Those of you crying “racist” have nothing to back your claims that this didn’t happen.

    Anyway, I (and many others) consider both Arabs and Persians to be Caucasians. I would consider the email to be an ethnic joke, not racist. Stop being so sensitive!

  24. Carol Matlack says:

    I’m a Paris-based correspondent for BusinessWeek, and I cover Airbus regularly. This incident occurred during ground tests of an A340 that was to be delivered to Etihad. Because of errors by testing personnel, “chocks” were not placed under the wheels. When the engines were powered up, the aircraft lurched forward into a wall, causing the damage you see in the photos. So far as I know, there was no official determination made about who was responsible, but the tests were being carried out by Airbus staff along with employees of an Abu Dhabi-based aircraft maintenance company.

  25. stuart says:

    The story seems to be true. If people think it is racist to report a factual story because the stupid person was not white that in itself seems racist. If this was a British Airways plane or Virgin plane would the news reporting have been different? If the reporting was different because it was an Arab airline that would suggest racism of some form. Racism by governments or establishments is at least as serious as by individuals. The worst examples of racism seem to come at establishment level.

  26. Markei says:

    I agree with Darko, please people, back up any racist claims, not just spout the “all people are racist” nonsense mentality. You require facts from others, but provide none.

    The snopes story has several references to the actual story as well(see below). Those claiming Photoshop clearly have no clue, but once again, are talking from the top of their head. There is a name for that, it’s called “junk science” – when you propose something is true because of made up statistics, or “everyone knows that” when they obviously don’t know very much themselves in the way of actual facts. That’s how rumors like evolution and global warming become considered facts, when the actual science clearly says otherwise.

    BBC News. “France Investigates Airbus Crash.”

    16 November 2007.

    Forbes “Airbus A340 Involved in Ground Collision During Engine Testing.”

    16 November 2007.

    Associated Press “Emirates Carrier Denies Airbus Injuries.”

    ABC News. 17 November 2007.

    Gale, Ivan. “‘Unsecured Wheels’ Caused Airbus Crash.”

    The [Abu Dhabi] National, 21 December 2008.

  27. todd says:

    FYI

    The A380 is the largest Aircraft in the world, not the A340.

    The A380-800, the passenger model, is the largest passenger airliner in the world, but has a shorter fuselage than the Airbus A340-600, which is Airbus’s next-biggest passenger aeroplane

  28. Fernanda says:

    I received this email today and it had a little postscript- “That’s why God gave them camels”. I am seriously offended and shocked at the person who emailed it to me, although I’m sure she can’t have been the one who added that little line. However, my husband thinks I am over-reacting. He takes the same view as some of the above that it was meant as a joke.

    I am not in the least bit politically correct and find that people who are cause more racism than those who make jokes. But I really don’t understand how this can be taken as a joke, especially when some idiot adds that extra line. He blatantly didn’t take it as a joke, which is a great example of why this sort of thing is wrong.

    Firstly, it states a media black out. That is not true, unless you count Spiegel, USA Today and BBC as not being media. It states that the reason there is a media blackout is because they are Arab. How is that not inflammatory?? Anybody in a democratic nation will always get their back up as soon as it is hinted that a story is suppressed for any reason. And we will always resent the cause of such suppression.

    From that point on, the author has free reign over our emotions. So he then goes on to describe how the accident took place and by whom. The testers are supposed to be thick and Arab. How can he know this if there was a media black out? How on Earth did he manage to find out exactly, step by step, in intricate detail how the accident happened? And that detail is the clincher. Because most of us will take in any story that has a bit of technical information that we know nothing about.

    So, our rights in a free society are being taken away not because of “national security” or any even remotely justifiable reason, but because “we” don’t want to offend “them”. It’s actually quite clever how he’s managed to work out how to manipulate us. If only it wasn’t so disgusting.

  29. Avi Harel says:

    This story reminds me of another accident in France, involving another Airbus, A-320, in 1988.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_296.

    The accident was attributed to a pilot error, but actually, it was the result of several design mistakes. As a result of these design mistakes, the pilot was not aware of the specail engine state. Because they blamed the pilot (and sent him to jail), they did not bother to fix the design mistakes, thereof enabling another accident in Bangalore, India.

    I hope this time they already understand that blaming the pilot for falling in the design trap does not prevent the next accident.

  30. jonk says:

    @markei “That’s how rumors like evolution and global warming become considered facts, when the actual science clearly says otherwise”

    And you were doing so well up to that point. Sad.

  31. JRI says:

    For some fairly definitive, unbiased information about this accident, see the official accident report, at http://www.bea.aero/docspa/2007/f-cj071115/pdf/f-cj071115.pdf

    For those who can’t read French, section 1.5.1 confirms the posts above by Sam and Carol Matlack that Airbus staff were involved.

  32. Tay Moss says:

    When you read the official accident report (available translated into English here:

    http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/300539-brand-new-etihad-a340-600-damaged-toulouse-several-wounded-26.html#post4705627

    You’ll see that that the cause of the accident was the Airbus technician cutting corners (not using wheel chocks) and had nothing to do with an arab flight crew not understanding a sophisticated airplane. There were no pulling of circuit breakers or any of that nonsense. Read the report, get the facts straight!

    -t

  33. ANty says:

    HOAXHOAXHOAX! DEFINITELY HOAX.

    Go there and translate with GoogleTranslate:

    http://www.rue89.com/hoax/2009/03/27/non-la-presse-na-pas-etouffe-laffaire-du-crash-de-la340-600

    It’s an old news, edited in French press since 2007, that some “people” changed for some reason and made this S***.

    Come on!

  34. Col. Stuart says:

    Unexciting though this is there was simply NO press suppression – the incident was quite simply not picked up by the stupid ( Western? ) Media busy racing after so-called ” Prommie Scandals ” Etc?

    Try this for a Link about THE TRUTH!

    http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/depeches/societe/20071116.FAP9486/accident_de_lairbus_a340_trois_blesses_toujours_hospita.html

  35. bob says:

    airbus web site list 95 340-600 built but only 94 in service could this be that plane?

  36. George says:

    For those of you that don’t believe this happened here is a report from Gulf News, a daily English language newspaper published from Dubai.

    http://gulfnews.com/business/aviation/etihad-says-toulouse-crash-will-not-slow-route-growth-1.213511

    Here is a link to a translation of the BEA accident report for those of you that do not speak Airbus.

    http://www.pprune.org/4705627-post510.html

    That’s only if you can believe a French government report, on an embarrassing incident involving a French Gov. owned manufacturer, and one of its best customers.

    Of special note in this report is the word “deactivated” that’s used in stead of released when the parking breaks came off ant near MTO.

    Then a whopping 7 seconds maintained at that power right into the blast deflector.

    One engine kept running at that power for 6 hours after the crash! Who needs an emergency fuel cut off, not Airbus.

    Weather or not you subscribe to the bad Airbus software, or the pea brained cockpit crew theory for this incident, it’s still laughably stupid.

  37. Jim says:

    I remember back to my OTS days in the Air Force in 1976…We taught a whole bunch of Iranian Tech Sergeants – they were the most unfriendly people I’ve ever met. Their main lust in America was ice cream; we saw them buying the entire BX out every day for their group!

    One incident comes to mind in the middle of all of this ‘racist’ crap people are throwing at us. I remember there was a Saudi there to get his commission before learning to become a pilot. He was a super nice guy…his name was Mohammed. A few of us were in his room one day asking him things, one of which was how long have you been here? He replied in broken English — about six months. This puzzled us because our OTS class lasted about three months and we would be gone.

    The next day I asked our Flight Instructor about the Saudi, and he told us this: “When the first exchange students came here, the Saudi government insisted we treat them identical to our people. So we did, and the first one washed out! When he got back to Saudi Arabia, they SHOT him! Well, the unofficial, official policy is now they will stay until they correctly pass the course, no matter how long it takes!”

    I would expect that their time at flight school probably lasted twice as long…and I would bet money that some of the T-38 crashes during flight training were by foreign students!

    We still train the very best fighter pilots in the world! If they survive, that is!

  38. Angel Elf says:

    PICTURE: Etihad A340-600 jumps chocks, hits wall; 5 injured

    Flightglobal.com ^ | 16 Nov 2007 | Stephen Trimble

    Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 4:54:23 PM by Yo-Yo

    Airbus confirms an A340-600 was damaged and five people were injured in a ground test accident at the company’s Saint-Martin site in Toulouse.

    The aircraft sustained damage when it somehow broke free of its parking chocks during engine run-ups around 5 pm, local time. News photos taken at the scene show the aircraft’s nose rammed through a blast deflection wall.

    “At this time, recovery operations are still in progress and Airbus staff is working closely with the emergency services and local authorities at the site,” an Airbus statement says.

    Nine people were aboard the aircraft at the time of the accident. The condition of the five injured person was not immediately available.

    “Airbus expresses its sympathy to the families and friends of the [injured] persons concerned,” the company adds.

    The aircraft, with tail number MSN 856, was due to be delivered to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, “in the coming days,” Airbus says.

  39. Kevin Buell says:

    This is a lie, the largest airliner is the A380 which can be configured to 852 passengers. If they can lie about the aircraft as being the biggest they can lie about the rest.

  40. Andreas says:

    Guys & Girls,I did see the aircraft my self(I was annoyed I didn’t have a phone or a camera with me to record it at the time).I did see several Arab men coming out of it following the crash-I swear I am saying the truth-it isn’t racist,I am black African myself….Obviously,no-one knows who was doing what at the time at the cockpit…but as I stated, it’s true,there are several witnesses when this happened…I just hope they post their blogs alongside mine…

    Andy.

  41. abid says:

    It is incomprehensible that a dasaster on this scale is not reported or officially confirmed. There are serious financial implications for the insurance carrier, the airline and the manufacturer. to keep it hushed would be tantamount to fraud and deception for all the parties involved and hence the veracity of this whole story is very questionable. Not a muslim or christian or arab story!

  42. Charlie kelly says:

    If you look at the pictures there is two red stripes on the bottom photos and non in the top photos. Therefore if this plane did crash it is not the same one in the above photos

  43. Saed says:

    I do not understand why the article was “racist.” Seven retarded Arabs does not mean all Arabs are retarded. It is also quite understandable why an Arabian community would not want such an article printed, because ignorant racists would see the article as racist rather than as factual account of an unusual representation of a people. Like saying all Europeans are exhibitionists because Paris Hilton is an exhibitionist and of European decent.

    Success in training and school is generally very important to middle eastern people. Unfortunately many have been successful at cheating in standardized tests and other exams, leaving others with a feeling that all middle easterners are “booksmart” but extreemely dim minded otherwise. These characteristics may lead to predjudice, but predjudice is a far cry from “racist.”

  44. Lenny Henry says:

    Obviously the email has been cobbled together in an attempt to poke fun at those responsible for this accident, yes the accident happened, yes someone was to blame, not all Etihad pilots can be this daft otherwise all of their aircraft would be in the scrap pile, so despite the originator getting the facts wrong then its just another of those annoying emails that finish up in my junk mail.

    Lenny

  45. Git says:

    “Like saying all Europeans are exhibitionists because Paris Hilton is an exhibitionist and of European decent.”

    If you are going to make up facts to support your argument, at least make them accurate (deleted by editor) you are all turds!!!

  46. balogh Judith says:

    I have read less than half of these comments; most are interesting and informative. But then another, much bigger problem than the crash raised its ugly head. There was a generation not too long ago, which got off the track, supposedly because it grew up in constant fear of the Bomb and of total annihilation. At least, that was the excuse. I am now afraid that a new generation of confused, lost souls is emerging due to the ocean of mindless and all too often baseless rumors, statements, and “facts” spilling out of the internet. If everything has to be questioned whether it is true or not, soon it will be the creed that nothing is true and nothing is of value. Of course, some “facts” can be checked out, but many claims do remain vague; besides, so much of such garbage is generated daily that ever fewer hardy souls take the time to search for the truth. I leave it up anybody’s fantasy how this will affect a generation, which is already burdened with a phenomenal lack of thinking skills. (As a tacher with almost fifty years of experience, I feel that I am in a position to state this as a fact.) The many, who mindlessly forward half-truths, or downright lies ought to consider this point.

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