Air France Flight 296 was a chartered flight of a newly-delivered fly-by-wire Airbus A320-111 operated by Air France. On June 26, 1988, as part of an air show it was scheduled to fly over Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport (ICAO code LFGB) at a low speed with landing gear down at an altitude of 100 feet, but instead slowly descended to 30 feet before crashing into the tops of trees beyond the runway. Three passengers died. The cause of the accident is disputed, as many irregularities were later revealed by the accident investigation. This was the first crash of an Airbus A320.

50 COMMENTS

  1. I have studied this particular accident many times over the past several decades. As each year passes, I become more convinced that the aircraft had several design flaws that negated the possibility of pilot error. Several documentaries have been done on this accident. In each case, the pilot is vilified and blamed for the accident. While I do agree a pilot is ultimately in charge of his ship, his crew and his passengers, I also believe that the manufactures will do whatever is necessary to cover up any discrepancies or mechanical issues.

    4 seconds.

    Is an eternity in flight. A point of fact, often overlooked is how fast things occur while flying so close to the surface of the planet. At 32,000 feet, pilots have ample time to make corrections to get their aircraft in the correct attitude. However, at 30 feet, a pilot must rely on extreme piloting skills if he is to get his ship out of danger. Such was the case of this pilot. Whom, I believe did everything by the book. The A320 is indeed a beautiful aircraft to fly. It's flight characteristics are more akin to a sophisticated fighter jet. However, such technologies can be confounding at times.

    When you see the A320 just start it's approach, you can clearly see it appears as though it is going to land. Once the pilot realized the trees were a factor, he applied full thrust and pulled back on the control stick. However, the A320's computer had already made its own determinations and put the aircraft in landing mode. Once that occurred, there was little any pilot could have done to stop, deter, prevent or otherwise cause the aircraft to remain in flight. You can, in fact, hear the A320's engines spool up, but this occurs as the aircraft enters the tree line. However, the pilot, 4 seconds prior, had already demanded full thrust and pulled back on the control stick. Yet, there was a noticeable delay from the time the pilot applied full thrust to when you actually hear it coming on line. Obviously, Airbus covered this up. The "bottom line" was at stake. The number of A320's contracted to various carrier's throughout the world was in the hopper as it were. What was one pilots testimony versus an etire companies bottom line?

    The pilot was charged with a crime in the death of three passengers. Airbus, for its part, did little if anything to address the issue of that 4 seconds.

    One other very notable problem. The pilot made a remarkable discovery regarding the flight data recorder and the voice recorder. The so called " black boxes". They were tampered with. Those pictured being carried away from the scene were indeed very different from those used in the case against him. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, that statement would indeed prove true with regards to the case against the pilot. Pictures do not lie and in this case, it was very evident that, the powers to be wanted a scapegoat. They found their scapegoat in the pilot.

    I believe he is innocent, but he could of made better decisions as all pilots must do when faced with extreme situations.

    As for Airbus. They manufacture very beautiful aircraft that have very good safety records now. However, I believe they manipulated the data regarding this accident and purposely and maliciously damaged the career of this pilot.

    The three people that died are a tremendous loss of life. No one, except the pilots should have been on board. Not even the guest flight attendants. Whom, by the way, should have been the last people, aside from the two pilots out of the aircraft. They might not have been on duty, but they both knew what was going on. Those three people should have been assisted in every way possible to get them out before they succumbed to the fires smoke.

  2. Fascinating video. You can see the entire disaster. The late turn to line up, giving not enough time to get the altitude right. A clear side profile of the aircraft and the ground, showing it's at 30-40 feet, not 100 feet like it was supposed to be. And it's flying below the tree line, and also towards the treeline, in a configuration that leaves little capacity for increasing speed or height.

  3. listen to me, this is THE most hilarious video. i owe it so much. i first watched this almost 10 years ago and i still think about how clumsily the french screwed this up every day. everything about it is perfect…… the fact that the plane was unmanned puts the icing on the cake

  4. I could image the crowd worrying about the victims on the place while Boeing executives saying this is our chance to kill Airbus.

  5. Question is, was it pilots fault or was the FDR and CRV tampered with to defend credibility of the Airbus? We will never know.

  6. This airbus was unmanned! I have spent half my life studying this video. Cant you hear the guy over the intercomm saying "Its OK! Its Ok!" He then goes on to explain that the only thing hurt is all that bark from microchip splinters. And maybe a few squirrels. I speak fluent unmannedenese and French and I can tell you that this is what he said. The evidence is right in your face my friends.

  7. The other day a EgyptAir flight 804 Crashed and it was a A320-200 class. In 1999 a
    copilot took over EgyptAir flight 990 and crashed that one in the Atlantic ocean. My thoughts and Prayers go to everyone onboard both jets!!!!

  8. Long Comment:

    The crew had no idea there was an obstacle at the end of the runway. The airline employee who drew the map of the airport did not include the obstacles of the trees.

    The plane was flying less than 100ft off the ground, which is a violation of Aviation Safety. The plane was slowing down as it performed the flyover. In seconds, the plane's speed drops to 112 knots and loses altitude by dropping to 30ft off the ground.

    The plane suffered no mechanical breakdown. The a320 followed a very different flight path than what the captain planned. But the captain insists his instruments failed him. He was relying on the altimeter that uses air pressure to measure the planes distance from the ground. He claims he couldn't hear what the altimeter was telling him through his headphones.

    The captain applied full throttle. But he claims the engines did not respond. Investigators found that there were no failures on any of the data from the plane. However, they did believe him that the flight computers overrided the captains command.

    The captain believed there was a conspiracy to temper the planes black boxes to conceal problems the a320's Fly By wire technologies. He noticed the 2 black boxes in the pictures looked different.

    Investigators noticed the tapes were recorded by ATC and the planes own black boxes. There was a loss of seconds in one of the tapes.

    The black box data indicated that the plane was 5 seconds away from the trees when the captain commanded full throttle on the engines. But Investigators saw that the action was taken place 4 seconds earlier.

  9. what it was the cause of this crash the pilot,the computer or the flyby wire system .So never never happing again

  10. Zorac: I think one of the funniest things you ever said was: "Anon….you're so posh you think sex is what coal is delivered in". That was hilarious!

  11. for the last time, NO CORRECTIVE MEASURES WERE TAKEN. only the slightest bit of thrust applied by a HUMAN PILOT would have allowed this UNMANNED vessel to clear the treeline

  12. This was the first fully automated plane flown by a computer, it was an UNmanned test flight, there ive said it (without prejudice).

  13. On the subject of fatal manned crash videos, has anyone had the pleasure of flying Ryanair? I don't know who Ryan is, but his pilots fly like they hate him with a vengeance. If it hadn't been for the high-powered Xanax I'd picked up off a street pharmacist in Bangkok last month, I would have been screaming into my boyfriend's ladyboobs the entire way.

  14. If it wasnt so tragic, it would be almost anecdotical! Pity for the passengers, of course. And also very pity for this new gorgerous machine, perished because of some fools! It could have served millions of passengers!

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