Friday, November 28, 2008

Air New Zealand identifies those lost in the A320 crash off the coast of France

Air New ZealandAir New Zealand has officially identified the five New Zealanders who are presumed to have lost their lives in the crash of an Airbus A320 off the coast of France, on November 27, 2008.

The aircraft, owned by Air New Zealand, had been leased to XL Airways Germany for the past two years, and was about to be returned to Air New Zealand. Immediately prior to yesterday's crash, the accident aircraft had been performing an acceptance flight (as Flight GXL 888T), and was about to be ferried to Frankfurt where it would be officially handed over to Air New Zealand.

According to information provided by the airline, the five New Zealanders on board were:
  • Capt. Brian Horrell, 52, Air New Zealand pilot from Auckland
  • Murray White, 37, Air New Zealand engineer from Auckland
  • Michael Gyles, 49, Air New Zealand engineer from Christchurch
  • Noel Marsh, 35, Air New Zealand engineer from Christchurch
  • Jeremy Cook, New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority inspector
The names of the two XL Airways crew members who were piloting the aircraft have not yet been made public.

The most recent media statement about the accident issued by Air New Zealand says, in part:
French authorities have now advised Air New Zealand that it should not expect there to be any survivors after its Airbus A320 that was on lease to XL Airways of Germany was lost in the Mediterranean yesterday.

Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims says rescue authorities have told the airline it appears the aircraft broke up on impact and there was no realistic chance of survivors.

"This is devastating news for the families and all Air New Zealanders as we had all been clinging on to hope. Sadly, rescue authorities have told us that all evidence on site indicates that given the nature of the impact there is no chance of survivors. Debris is spread over a large area and it appears the aircraft is not in large pieces as originally indicated by those who saw the impact," Mr Sims says.
Earlier today, French search and rescue authorities advised Air New Zealand that they had identified locator signals from the two 'black box' flight recorders from accident aircraft. They are not expected to be recovered until tomorrow due to deteriorating weather conditions.

Condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of all seven individuals who were lost in this tragic accident.