The Airbus A320 — the type of jetliner that crashed on Tuesday in the French Alps — is a workhorse of the skies, in service every minute all over the world, and boasts a strong safety record.
More than 6,000 planes in the A320 family are in service in various models, and the A320 is flown by all the major U.S. airlines.
"It's a delight to fly," said John Cox, a former pilot and the CEO of Safety Operating Systems, an aviation consulting company. "It's a highly reliable airplane."
It has been involved in high-profile accidents, however. AirAsia Flight 8501, which crashed into the Java Sea on a flight from Indonesia to Singapore in December, killing 162 people on board, was an A320. The cause of that crash is under investigation.
And in January 2009, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger guided an A320 into the frigid Hudson River, saving everyone on board, after the plane struck birds on takeoff and both engines failed.