Australian Victims Named in French Airbus Crash

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
By George Hatcher

What: Airbus A320 maintenance flight leased by Germany charter airline XL Airways and was due to return to service for Air New Zealand next month; flying from Perpignan airport
Where: off France’s southern coast in the Mediterranean as it was approaching the Perpignan airport
Who: 7 on board: Two German pilots, Another pilot and three engineers from Air New Zealand were also on board, as well as an aircraft inspector from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority. 2 bodies were recovered at sea
Why: 150-passenger plane, which was delivered to Air New Zealand in July 2005, had accumulated approximately 7,000 flight hours. The plane is in several pieces. A witness told a radio station that “he saw the Airbus dive abruptly and plunge into the sea.” Six French and two German aviation accident investigators have been sent to investigate. Search teams on Friday found the flight recorders.

The search is being hampered by 30 knot winds and rain and a sea temperature of about 13C.
Two German Pilots were aboard.
5 Australians are listed below:
Captain Brian Horrell, 52, from Auckland
Engineer Murray White, 37,from Auckland
Engineer Michael Gyles, 49, from Christchurch.
Civil Aviation Authority airworthiness inspector Jeremy Cook
Air New Zealand Engineer Noel Marsh, 35

Status: Preliminary – official
Date: 27 NOV 2008
Time: 16:46
Type: Airbus A320-232
Operating for: XL Airways Germany
Leased from: Air New Zealand
Registration: D-AXLA
C/n / msn: 2500
First flight: 2005-06-30
Total airframe hrs: 7000
Cycles: 2800
Engines: 2 IAE V2500-A1
Total: Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7 crewmembers
Airplane fate/damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: 7 km (4.4 mls) off Saint-Cyprien (France)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature: Test
Departure/Destination airport: Perpignan Airport (PGF/LFMP), France
Airbus A320 D-AXLA had been leased by XL Airways Germany since May 2006. The airplane was due to be returned to its owner, Air New Zealand, on December 1, 2008. The Airbus was ferried to Perpignan (PGF) where it underwent maintenance at EAS Industries. It was also repainted in full Air New Zealand livery, but retained the registration D-AXLA. French newspaper Midi Libre reported that the airplane carried out a test flight on the morning of November 27. D-AXLA departed Perpignan in the afternoon for a second test flight. On board were two XL Airways pilots, a senior Air New Zealand pilot, three Air New Zealand engineers, and a N.Z. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) inspector.
On approach back to Perpignan radio contact was lost while the A320 was at 3500 feet. A radar controller reportedly saw the airplane descending fast in a left hand turn. It struck the sea and broke up.

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