5 Dec 2008

Crashed NZ Airbus flight recorders 'appear intact'

6:02 am on 5 December 2008

French authorities say flight data recorders recovered from the wreckage of an Air New Zealand Airbus appear to be fully intact.

Five New Zealanders and two German pilots are presumed to have died when the four-year-old A30 Airbus crashed into the Mediterranean while on a test flight last Thursday.

The crash occurred at 4.46pm local time when the plane, which had been leased to German charter airline XL Airways, was approaching the airport at the French city of Perpignan after the hour-long flight.

Navy divers have so far recovered three bodies and are collecting parts of the submerged plane.

The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder have been handed over to the French Air Accident Authority.

The authority says the protective casings have stood up to the impact of the crash and the memory cards appear to be unaffected.

It says no information has yet been able to be extracted from the recorders and it is impossible to predict the results.

Other details confirmed by the authority include that the plane had maintenance in early November, consisting of visual and functional checks, as well as a repaint.

Transport investigators from New Zealand say the flight recorders will now be sent to their manufacturer in the United States for analysis.

New Zealanders on fatal flight

An Air New Zealand pilot and three engineers were on the flight, as well as a New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority official.

Air New Zealand staff killed were: Auckland pilot Captain Brian Horrell, 52, Murray White, 37, an engineer from Auckland, Michael Gyles, 49, and Noel Marsh, both engineers from Christchurch.

The Civil Aviation Authority official was Jeremy Cook, a Wellington engineer.