BEA attacks 'unacceptable' delay on Yemenia A310 inquiry

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French investigators have strongly criticised the slow progress of the inquiry into the Yemenia Airbus A310-300 crash off the coast of the Comoros more than two years ago.

The loss of flight IY626, which was attempting to land at Moroni airport, occurred in June 2009, the same month as the high-profile disappearance of Air France flight AF447 in the South Atlantic, and subsequently received relatively little attention.

However, France's investigation agency Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses has condemned the pace of the A310 inquiry in a letter to the Comoros accident commission chief. Director Jean-Paul Troadec wrote that an unpublished initial progress report on the crash, dated 25 June 2011, contained facts which "in essence were already available three months after the accident". This was despite the BEA discussing, in May 2010, the publication of an update to coincide with the first anniversary of IY626's loss. Troadec has also written that the belated report is missing information such as data on flight parameters.

"So I gather that, since September 2009, the investigation has not progressed," he said, pointing out that France, through the BEA, has been "deeply involved" in the inquiry and that it had contributed €3 million ($4.2 million) in funding for underwater search efforts to locate and recover the A310's flight recorders.

"The fact that [the commission of inquiry] has not started to exploit the information retrieved from the recorders, two years after reading them, is unacceptable," Troadec wrote.

He has urged the commission to organise a schedule and complete the investigation, in line with international standards, and ensure a final report is published in a reasonable time. The accident led to a diplomatic conflict between Yemen and France over Yemenia's safety record, a row which included withdrawal of flights, at a time when Yemenia was looking to order Airbus jets.

While there are no published conclusions on the cause of the crash, the aircraft was attempting its approach in darkness, probably to runway 20 given the gusting winds from the south for which landing charts indicated a prescribed track visual approach including a 180° turn.