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Wednesday, July 20, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Airbus To Brief Customer In Wake Of A330 Test-Flight Crash

Bloomberg Business News

PARIS - Thai Airways International said it has invited Airbus Industrie to brief the airline on the A330-300 model after a June 30 crash during a test flight in Toulouse.

The airline also said it has asked its legal consultants in Paris to talk with Airbus about the replacement of an A330 that was damaged last year during a test flight Airbus performed at its behest.

The Airbus briefing is scheduled to take place at Thai Airways' head office in Bangkok on Tuesday, the company said. The A330 crash in Toulouse was of particular concern because the plane was being flown by Airbus' chief test pilot, which would suggest that pilot error was not the cause.

The jet crashed on takeoff, killing all seven people on board, including the pilot.

Airbus has not yet released reports on the reason for the accident but Airbus Chairman Jean Pierson said shortly after the accident that the plane was flying too low.

The plane maker also stressed at the time that the plane was being flown under extreme conditions that would not be replicated by a commercial pilot. The plane crashed as the pilot was trying to simulate engine failure as part of the certification program for the plane's Pratt & Whitney engines.

The A330 is the newest of the Airbus range of aircraft. Thai Airways has eight on order, all to be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4164 engines.

Nearly 250 of the planes have been ordered worldwide.

Thai Airways had commissioned Airbus to use one of the aircraft last December to perform test flights before delivery. Airbus began its test-flight program with the aircraft in November 1993 and the plane was damaged on Dec. 7.

The airline said that during the Dec. 7 test flight, there was a "tail strike" incident that damaged the aircraft's tail. "This resulted in the Thai board of directors' decision not to take delivery of this aircraft, requiring Airbus Industrie to replace it with a new airplane," the company said.

A spokesman for Airbus said that the replacement of the damaged plane was not a matter of dispute.

He confirmed that Airbus would provide a briefing for Thai Airways officials and said Airbus would also provide a briefing for executives at Malaysian Airlines System, which also has A330s on order.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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