MADRID (AP) — A military transport plane crashed near Seville airport in southwestern Spain on Saturday, killing four crew members and injuring two seriously, officials said.
The crash of the Airbus A400M, that was undergoing flight trials at the airport, raised questions about the security of the brand new aircraft.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was the first to confirm the crash, offering his condolences to the families of the all-Spanish crew. Rajoy later visited the families in Seville and said the crash was a blow to an industry that was important to Spain — and to Europe.
“I hope there will be maximum transparency when explanations are made as to what happened here. That’s what I’m going to ask of Airbus,” Rajoy said.
Airbus said in a statement that four of the total six crew members died in the accident. The two others are currently in hospital in a serious condition, it said.
James Darcy, a spokesman for Airbus in the U.S., said it was the first crash for the large, propeller-driven transport aircraft since it first entered service with the French Air Force in 2013.
He said Airbus Defense and Space has been ramping up production of the plane “as part of the normal planned growth for the program.” The target for this year is 14 aircraft, up from eight last year, he said.
Seville is the final assembly point for the A400M. Some 194 aircraft have been ordered by eight countries — including Spain — to replace their aging Hercules fleets.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Saturday it was suspending the use of the Airbus A400M after the crash.
The ministry said use of Britain’s two A400M’s had been “temporarily paused” as a precaution.
A spokeswoman for Spain’s Interior Ministry at the scene of the crash told The Associated Press that the two crew members who had been rescued alive had been taken to a hospital in Seville — one suffering from a head injury but still conscious and the other with serious burns. She spoke on condition of anonymity because her name is not allowed to be cited in the press.
Airbus said the plane that crashed was scheduled to be delivered to Turkey in June as the country’s third such aircraft.
Spain’s air traffic controllers said on their Twitter account that the pilots had communicated just before the impact that a fault was affecting the flight. The impact occurred a mile north of Seville airport, they said.
Spain’s airport authority AENA said that Seville airport had been closed for just over 1 1/2 hours as its fire crews went to attend the plane crash outside its perimeter fence. Three incoming flights to Seville were diverted to Malaga and Jerez airports, AENA said.
The crash also knocked out power at an industrial estate in the suburb of Carmona, AENA said.
The controllers said one of the flights diverted to Malaga was a transport plane used to deliver aircraft parts for assembly. It had been flying in from an Airbus facility in Hamburg, Germany.
Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.