Crashed MD-11F caught fire after impact: Saudi inquiry

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Preliminary information on the Lufthansa Cargo Boeing MD-11 freighter crash at Riyadh last week indicates that the fire resulted from the impact of the aircraft with the runway.

The aircraft, arriving at King Khaled International Airport's runway 33L, struck the ground hard, damaging the undercarriage, and slid to a halt into the dust along the left side of the landing strip.

In a statement disclosing initial findings from the 27 July accident, Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Civil Aviation appears to rule out a fire on board the tri-jet before it touched down.

It says the "impact of the aircraft with the runway surface led to the fire". The GACA also says that the crash resulted in a state of alert at the airport and the mobilisation of rescue services, but does not indicate that the aircraft had declared any emergency beforehand.

The GACA says that the flight recorders from the MD-11F were retrieved and that efforts are under way to analyse the data contained in them.

It says that a report will be issued "outlining the circumstances of the incident upon completion of a full investigation".

Lufthansa says its logistics operation will only be marginally affected by the loss of the aircraft because, following a resurgence in the freight market, the cargo division is reintroducing aircraft which had been taken out of service during the downturn.

"In the second half of the year, two more of the four decommissioned freighters willbe brought back into service," says the company.

Lufthansa Cargo is expecting a "substantially positive" operating result for the full year 2010.