Yemenia plane data recorder ‘possibly found’

Relatives of passengers on the doomed jet arrive at Marseille airport in southern France.
The flight data recorders from a Yemenia Airways crash were possibly located off Comoros on Wednesday, a day after a jetliner with 153 people aboard went down in the Indian Ocean, a French official said.

“It seems like the ‘black boxes’ have been localized, but are not very accessible, according to information we obtained this morning. But they have been localized,” Alain Joyandet, a French junior foreign minister told CNN affiliate BFM TV in a phone interview from Comoros. The pair of devices — the flight data recorder and a voice and audio recorder — record virtually everything about how an airplane is working and can help investigators determine what happened in a crash. “Unfortunately, there’s no hope to find any other survivor,” Joyandet said. The French navy and Yemeni authorities expanded search efforts for wreckage and bodies Wednesday, with a French frigate among the ships joining the search. The Airbus 310 went down early Tuesday, carrying 142 passengers and 11 crew members on a flight that originated in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. The jet took off from Sanaa at 9:45 p.m. Monday and vanished from radar when it was about 16 miles from Comoros’ capital, Moroni. Watch what is known about the flight » Searchers had recovered three bodies, Qadir said. Bahia Bakari, a 13-year-old French girl, was the only known survivor. Her mother was also on the flight, but she has not been found. The girl’s father Kassim Bakari told France Info, a French radio network, that his wife and daughter were flying to Comoros to visit relatives. Watch as airline describes child’s rescue » “When I had her on the phone, I asked her what happened and she said, ‘Daddy, I don’t know what happened, but the plane fell into the water and I found myself in the water … surrounded by darkness. I could not see anyone,'” Bakari said.

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Passengers on the flight included 66 French citizens, 54 Comorians, one Palestinian and one Canadian, according to Yemeni and French officials. The crew was made up of six Yemenis, two Moroccans, one Ethiopian, one Filipino and one Indonesian. A number of potential contributing factors were being considered in the crash. Recent plane crashes » “The weather conditions were indeed very troubling and the winds were very strong, reaching 61 kilometers per hour (38 mph),” Qadir said. “That’s one thing. The other thing was that the sea was very rough when the plane approached landing at Moroni airport.” But French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau noted that France banned the Yemenia Airbus A310-300 several years ago because of safety concerns. “People are talking about poor weather conditions, but for the moment, we are unsure,” Bussereau said. “It seems the plane may have attempted an approach, put on the gas, and attempted another approach, which then failed. For the moment, we must be careful, because none of this information is verified.” Qadir said it was too early to blame the aircraft for the crash. “This plane is just like any other plane,” he said. “It can have a malfunction, but we don’t know what really happened before the investigation is over. And then we can determine if there is a technical issue, bad weather or anything else that may have led to the crash.” It is the second crash involving an Airbus jet in a month. On June 1, an Air France Airbus A330 crashed off Brazil while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, France. All 228 aboard are presumed dead. The cause remains under investigation. Former pilot and aviation analyst John Cox said there were no other similarities between the two crashes though they involved Airbus planes. “These are two dramatically different airplanes flown by two different airlines,” Cox told CNN’s “American Morning.”

Airbus A310-300Launched in 1983, entered service in 1985 Widebody, twin-engine aircraft, typically carries 220 passengers Suited to medium-range routes of up to 5,200 nautical miles (9,600km) Typical cruise speed of Mach 0.8, maximum operating speed of Mach 0.84 214 A310s now in service with 41 operators Global A310 fleet, including the A310-300, has logged 11.7 million flight hours on 4.5 million flights Major sub-assemblies produced in northern France, Germany, UK and Spain. Final assembly in Toulouse, southern France
(Source: Airbus)

“The accidents happened at two different regimes of flight. And Airbus has hundreds of millions of hours’ flying safely. I don’t believe that … we can draw any conclusions because the manufacturer was the same in these two very different types of accidents.” At first, Comorian officials said there were no signs of survivors among the bodies floating in the choppy waters. But then rescuers found the girl. Initially, Comorian officials had said a 5-year-old boy was the only survivor. They later said the survivor was a 14-year-old girl. But her father said she was 13. Cox said the girl’s discovery reminded him of the 1987 crash of Northwest Flight 255 in Detroit, Michigan, in which only a 4-year-old girl survived, while 156 others died. Flight 626 to Comoros was expected to take four and a half hours. The airline has three regular flights a week to Moroni, off the east coast of Africa, about 2,900 km (1,800 miles) south of Yemen. The crash occurred at 1:51 a.m., according to the Yemeni Embassy in Washington. There was no indication of foul play behind the crash, an official in Yemen said. Yemenia Air had used the jet since 1999 on about 17,300 flights, Airbus officials said. The company said it would assist in investigating the crash. “The concerns and sympathy of the Airbus employees go to the families, friends and loved ones affected by the accident,” the company said in a statement. In the wake of the Air France crash on June 1, U.S. accident investigators have been probing two recent failures of airspeed and altitude indications aboard Airbus A330s. One flight was between the United States and Brazil in May, and the other between Hong Kong and Japan in June. The planes landed safely and there were no injuries or damage, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.