Dive airplane wreck off the coast of Turkey: Airbus A300
The last flight of the Airbus A300 took little more than three hours and the landing was as planned: gentle and perfect! However from this landing, on the sea floor off the Turkish port of Kusadasi, the Airbus A300, built in Toulouse in 1980, will never rise again.
It was a calm, sunny day on the Aegean coast and the huge trunk of the Airbus A300 lay on the beach, supported by a huge mobile crane. If was about to begin its last journey, a trip to the sea floor to serve as an attraction for divers.
The Airbus A300 has flown thousands of flights been since it first took off on March 14, 1980. After nearly 20 years in service to Greek Olympic Airways the plane was refitted for cargo use. Since June 2006, the A300 flew cargo in Turkey before being retired from active service when high inspection costs meant the plane was no longer profitable. The end of cargo flights was far from the end of the line though for this old timer as another exciting chapter was yet to come.
The aircraft was purchased with the help of sponsors. It was dismantled and made its way by road from Istanbul to Kusadasi, where the A300 was again completely assembled and prepared for sinking just off the entrance to the port of Kuşadası. All dangerous parts, obstacles in the interior as well as glass and sharp edged parts were professionally removed before it was ready for the final flight to the seabed.
“Landing” after a little more than three hours
More than 3,000 onlookers and numerous sports boat captains gathered to view the sinking. The big crane supported the 54 meters long and eight meters wide fuselage as it was set on large cushioning bags which were attached to the hull and the 45-meter-wide wings. Cautiously the huge plane was then dragged from the coast and towed to the sinking location between the port of Kuşadası and the Kuştur coast. The new dive site Airbus A300 is just ten minutes from the Active Blue Diving Center and the port of Kuşadası in five-minute drive away.
After a little more than three hours the bird had landed. At 22 meters depth the A300 is now on a level sandy bottom. The dive depth is around 17 meters depth and the dive site has an average of 10 to 15 meters visibility.
The first impressions of diving on the wreck are how magnificent it is from above. Entering through the side of the fuselage brings the diver to the long tubular interior and slowly the shear dimensions of the giant aircraft are sensed. The cabin windows allow the sunlight near surface to shimmer into the interior of the aircraft and illuminate the almost spooky scene. The highlight of the dive is a flight through the interior of the A300 to visit the cockpit. The fittings, cables and switches have all been removed but it’s a special feeling to sit in one of the three cockpit seats and to look beyond, into the impenetrable blue gray of the Mediterranean.
The newly sunk A300 is now the new top diving spot off the Turkish coast and is likely to remain so for a long time. To withstand the sometimes fierce autumn and winter storms the huge hull has been attached to the seafloor with maximum security and to enable divers a safe descent to the new wreck a guide rope and permanent surface marker has been installed. Airbus A300 Kuşadası – ready to dive (hap).