Monday, June 29, 2009

Yemenia Airbus A310-300 crashes into the Indian Ocean

by B. N. Sullivan

Yemenia Airbus A310-300An Airbus A310-300 aircraft operated by Yemenia Air, the national air carrier of Yemen, has been lost in the Indian Ocean near the Comoros Islands. The aircraft, operating as Yemenia Flight IY626, had been en route from Sana'a, Yemen to Moroni, Comoros Islands. It was reported overdue at its destination, and is believed to have crashed into the ocean.

News reports say there were about 150 people on board the flight. At this time it is not known if there are any survivors.

UPDATE: The following message has been posted on the Yemenia web site:
Yemenia regrets to announce the missing of its flight No. IY626 from Sana’a to Moroni with 142 passengers and 11 crew onboard for more information contact the call center at 00967 1250800 or the emergency No 00967 1 250833 or call center 00967 1 250800
UPDATE 2: News media are reporting that in the early morning hours of of Tuesday, June 30, 2009, searchers located wreckage believed to be from Yemenia Flight IY626. The debris was discovered in the ocean, just off the coast of Grande Comore, and was said to be not far from shore. Some human remains also have been recovered, but no survivors have been found so far.

Reuters news agency quoted Mohammad al-Sumairi, deputy general manager for Yemenia operations, who said, "We still do not have information about the reason behind the crash or survivors."

"The weather conditions were rough; strong wind and high seas. The wind speed recorded on land at the airport was 61 km an hour. There could be other factors," he said.

Airbus, the manufacturer of the accident aircraft, has issued a statement with information about the plane. The statement, which is posted on the Airbus web site, notes the time of the accident as 01:50 local time (Comoro Islands) on June 30, 2009.

Airbus gives these details about the aircraft:
The aircraft involved in the accident, registered under the number 70-ADJ was MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 535. It was first delivered from the production line in 1990 and has been operated by Yemenia since October 1999. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 51,900 flight hours in some 17,300 flights. It was powered by Pratt and Whitney engines PW4152. At this time no further factual information is available.

In line with the ICAO Annex 13 international convention, Airbus will provide full technical assistance to the French BEA as well as to the authorities who will be responsible for the accident investigation. A team of specialists from Airbus is being dispatched to the Comoro Islands.

The A310-300 is a twin engine widebody seating 220 passengers in a standard two class configuration. The first A310-300 entered service in December 1985. By the end of May 2009, 214 A310s were in service with 41 operators. To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 11.7 million flight hours in some 4.5 million flights.
UPDATE June 30, 2009: News media are reporting that at least one survivor, described as a child, has been rescued. Reports vary about the age and gender of the child.

UPDATE July 6, 2009: News media reported yesterday that a French submarine searching in the area where the Yemenia crash occurred has detected 'pings' from the aircraft's 'black boxes' (i.e., Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder).

Also of interest, Tim Vasquez of has published a thorough analysis of the meteorological conditions in the area at the time of the Yemenia accident. See: Yemenia Flight 626: A detailed meteorological analysis

UPDATE Aug. 28, 2009: BBC News is reporting that the flight data recorder from the Yemenia accident was found in the Indian Ocean at a depth of some 1,200 meters (3,900 ft) and has been recovered. Still no word on the cockpit voice recorder.

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