Yemenia A310 Crashes, 152 Feared Dead

 - June 30, 2009, 6:36 AM

A Yemenia (Yemen Airways) Airbus A310-300 crashed into the Indian Ocean, just north of the Comoros Islands, shortly after 1:50 a.m. local time, Airbus confirmed this morning. Search crews reportedly have found a single survivor–a small child–as well as several bodies. The aircraft, operating as Flight IY626 from Sana’a, Yemen, bound for Moroni in the Comoros, carried 11 crewmembers and 142 passengers, including 66 French nationals.

Yemenia had operated the 19-year-old aircraft, MSN 535, since October 1999, according to Airbus. It had accumulated some 51,900 flight hours during roughly 17,300 flights.

The service originated in Paris with an Airbus A330 and stopped in Marseille before continuing to Yemen, where the passengers and crew changed airplanes, and headed to Moroni in an Airbus A310-300. The airplane went down as it approached Moroni’s Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport. Weather reports indicate 25-knot winds, gusting to 35 knots, visibility better than 10 kilometers and light cloud cover at 2,000 feet.

Airbus said it is dispatching a team of specialists to the Comoros to assist the French BEA and local authorities in the investigation.

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, 214 A310s flew in service with 41 operators. To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 11.7 million flight hours over approximately 4.5 million flights.