An Airblue jet crashed earlier this morning in the hills near Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. According to news reports, the incident claimed the lives of all 152 passengers and crew on board. The location of the crash was strewn with debris and bodies in a densely wooded area, causing rescue workers to battle fires while searching the wreckage for survivors. The scope of this crash makes it the worst aviation incident in Pakistan’s history. The cause of the crash has not been determined yet, but the Pakistani government does not suspect terrorism at this point.
The Airbus A321 has been a staple of the airline industry since its inception in November 1989. The main difference between the Airbus A321 and its predecessor, the A320, is the length of the fuselage, which resulted in heavier weight and a reduction in the range of the aircraft. The Airblue flight originated in the southern city of Karachi and was only a two hour flight to Islamabad, at just over 700 nautical miles, which is well within the 2,350 nautical mile limit of the A321 fully loaded. The maximum passenger capacity of the jetliner is 220 with an operating crew of two. The first 104 Airbus A321s were delivered in 1989. Despite the vehicle design’s age, the production of A321s continues today, with an order of 20 recently purchased by the Air Lease Corporation in the U.K.