The Airbus 300 is a twin-engine, medium-range aicraft produced by Airbus Industries, a European conglomerate that rivals Boeing in the commercial aircraft market.
The A300 flies at an average speed of about 475 miles per hour and has a range of about 4,000 miles.
The A300 is powered by two General Electric or Pratt and Whitney engines.
Introduced in the 1970s, the Airbus 300 family of jets has been significantly upgraded over the years and includes advanced "fly-by-wire" computerized flight controls.
The A300-600 — the model involved in the crash this morning in New York of American Airlines Flight 587 — went into service with commercial airlines in March 1984. The updated jet carries 266 passengers with a flight crew of two.
Relatively Good Safety Record
The first A300-600 delivery to American Airlines took place in April 1988. As of Oct. 31, American's fleet of 35 A300-600s had accumulated some 1.1923 million flight hours.
According to Airbus, by the end of October, 242 A300-600s were in service with 27 operators. To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 5.560 million flight hours in some 2.886 million flights.
Aviation experts say the A300 aircraft has a relatively good safety record. Only 11 A300s have been lost in the last 12 years.
Before this morning's crash this morning, one of the most recent air disasters involving an A300 occurred in Taipei, Taiwan, in February of 1998 when China Airlines A300-600 aircraft crashed into a residential area short of the runway. All 15 crew members and 182 passengers were killed in the accident, which was later blamed on rain and fog.
Airbus manufacturers say their planes have an overall reliability of 99 percent and that most crashes are attributed to human error rather than a fault with the aircraft.