1994 A330 test flight crash

1994 A330 test flight crash
1994 A330 test flight crash
Accident summary
Date June 30, 1994 (1994-06-30)
Type Pilot error in test conditions,
possible autopilot malfunction, Loss of control
Site Toulouse, France
43°38′6″N 1°21′30″E / 43.635°N 1.35833°E / 43.635; 1.35833Coordinates: 43°38′6″N 1°21′30″E / 43.635°N 1.35833°E / 43.635; 1.35833
Passengers 4
Crew 3
Fatalities 7 (all)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Airbus A330-300
Operator Airbus
Tail number F-WWKH

The 1994 A330 test flight crash occurred on 30 June 1994 when an Airbus A330-300, registration F-WWKH, crashed at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport while undergoing performance tests.[1] It was the first fatal accident involving an Airbus A330 as well as the first hull-loss of the type.[2] It remained the only fatal accident involving an A330 until the crash of Air France Flight 447 on 1 June 2009.[2]



The objective of the flight was to test the performance of the aircraft with the center of gravity near its aft limit.[3] Tons of water were carried in bladders in the rear of the aircraft's cabin to move the center of gravity to the desired position.[citation needed] The particular test that led to the crash was a simulated engine failure after takeoff, which meant shutting down one of the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines and switching off a hydraulic circuit.[4] During the test, the aircraft's autopilot would also be set to fly the plane to an altitude of 2,000 feet (610 m).[4]


The aircraft had just successfully completed a landing in extreme weather conditions and was in the process of completing a takeoff in the same conditions. The aircraft was flown by the co-pilot, while the actions to shut off the engine and hydraulic circuit, and engage the autopilot, were to be carried out by the captain.[5][6] The takeoff was completed successfully and the captain shut off the engine and hydraulic circuit. A problem arose with the autopilot, as it took three attempts to engage.[5] When the autopilot finally engaged, the aircraft started to ascend to 2000 ft. However, the aircraft rose too sharply and began losing speed. The speed decreased to 100 knots (120 mph; 190 km/h), but the minimum speed for controlling the aircraft is 118 knots.[5] The aircraft started to roll so the crew reduced power to the operating engine to reduce the thrust asymmetry; however, this made the problem worse and the aircraft pitched down by 15 degrees and shortly afterwards crashed into the ground.[1]


Onboard were three crew and four passengers. Two of the passengers were Airbus employees and two were Alitalia employees selected to observe the A330, which the company was considering buying.

  • Nicholas Warner (born June 7, 1943 in Colchester, England), chief test pilot and captain. 7,713 flying hours experience.
  • Michel Cais (born November 4, 1940 in Paris, France), co-pilot. 9,558 flying hours experience.
  • Jean Pierre Petit (born August 23, 1943 in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France), engineer. 6,225 flying hours experience.
  • Alberto Nassetti, Alitalia employee (pilot).
  • Pier Paolo Racchetti, Alitalia employee (pilot).
  • Philippe Tournoux, Airbus employee.
  • Keith Hulse, Airbus employee.


  1. ^ a b Accident description for FWWKH at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 11 August 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Accident record for the Airbus A330". Aviation Safety Network. http://aviation-safety.net/database/dblist.php?field=typecode&var=023%&cat=%1&sorteer=datekey&page=1. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  3. ^ David Learmount (6 July 1994 – 12 July 1994). "Autopilot test ends in A330 take-off crash" (pdf). Flight International: 4. http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1994/1994%20-%201580.html. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  4. ^ a b David Learmount (13 July 1994 – 19 July 1994). "Airbus defends A330 but warns on autopilot" (pdf). Flight International: 4 – 5. http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1994/1994%20-%201630.html. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c David Learmount (17 August 1994 – 23 August 1994). "Airbus wary over A330 changes" (pdf). Flight International: 4. http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1994/1994%20-%201926.html. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  6. ^ David Learmount (10 August 1994 – 16 August 1994). "A330 crash caused by series of small errors" (pdf). Flight International: 6. http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1994/1994%20-%201864.html. Retrieved 12 August 2011. "Immediately after take-off, the captain then carried out the test procedures: autopilot engage, throttle-back port engine and trip circuit-breaker for blue hydraulic circuit." 

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