July 1, 2009 in Nation/World

Doomed plane was red-flagged

Los Angeles Times

CAIRO, Egypt – European aviation authorities had raised safety questions two years ago about the Yemeni Airbus 310 jetliner that plunged into rough seas Tuesday with 153 people aboard on its approach to the island nation of Comoros in the Indian Ocean.

A 14-year-old girl plucked from the waves and debris appeared to be the lone survivor.

The Airbus was flying through strong winds as it prepared to land at the city’s Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport hours after leaving the Yemeni capital, San`a.

Flight 626 originated in Paris and stopped in Marseille before traveling on to San`a, where passengers switched to the Airbus 310-300. That jet, which was 19 years old and operated by Yemen’s national carrier, Yemenia, had raised suspicions earlier among European safety inspectors.

In 2007, French authorities barred the plane from French airports following a safety review that found problems with technical equipment.

Inspectors “noticed a certain number of defects. Since then the plane had not returned to France,” Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau was quoted as telling French TV.

French authorities did not go into detail about the nature of the defects, but Yemeni officials insisted they were minor.

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