Yemenia crew blamed for airline's first crash

The airline Yemenia, whose crew was blamed on Tuesday for a crash into the Indian Ocean off the Comoros islands in 2009, previously had a relatively incident-free record.

The final report of the probe into the June 29, 2009, crash of the Yemen flag carrier's Airbus A-310, which left 152 dead, said the "accident is due to an unsuitable act by the crew" during "an unstabilised manoeuvre", according to the probe director Bourhane Ahmed Bourhane of the Comoros.

Only one of the 153 passengers, a 14-year-old adolescent, survived the crash.

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Despite the good safety record of the airline, which hails from one of the world's poorest countries, the company was at the time of the crash being closely monitored by EU authorities.

Brussels had given Yemenia extra time to come into line with safety norms, before putting it on the blacklist of airlines banned from European airspace.

In France the aircraft had been inspected in 2007 by the civil aviation authority and a certain number of faults had been noted.

Initially founded as Yemen Airways in August 1961, the airline operates passenger and cargo services to more than 30 international and domestic destinations in Africa, Europe and the Far East, according to its website.

The Sanaa-based airline became Yemenia in July 1978, owned 51 percent by the government of Yemen and 49 percent by neighbouring oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

The airline has a fleet of six Airbus planes.

In a bid to develop its international network it agreed with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus in late 2009 to buy 10 A-320 aircraft. In 2007 it had ordered 10 A-350s.

In the last previous major incident involving the airline, a Yemenia Boeing with 91 passengers aboard including the then US ambassador to Sanaa was hijacked on a domestic flight in January 2001.

The hijacker, armed with a pen-like pistol containing a single bullet, tried to force the crew to fly to Baghdad but the plane finally landed in Djibouti. One crew member was injured in the incident and the hijacker was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In June 2000, a Yemenia cargo plane made an emergency landing in Khartoum but no-one was injured. A fire ravaged the company's headquarters in Sanaa in June 2001 and during the unrest linked to the Arab Spring the headquarters was burnt down in 2011.

© 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Jun 25, 2013