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Crashed Yemenia A310 faced challenging night-time Comoros approach

Airbus has identified the Yemenia Airbus A310-300 which crashed as it neared the Comoros overnight as a 19-year old, Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered aircraft.

While few details are known about the circumstances of the loss, the flight crew would have faced a challenging approach to the Indian Ocean islands.

Airbus states that the accident occurred around 01:50 today. Weather conditions at the time indicate good visibility - although the approach would have been in darkness - but strong southerly winds, gusting to 35kt.

Moroni's Prince Said Ibrahim Airport is located on the western coast of Grande Comore. It has a single north-south runway, designated 02/20, which is 2,900m (9,515ft) long.

Aeronautical charts from air navigation authority ASECNA depict a VOR-DME-ILS approach to runway 02, although the wind direction suggests the A310 would have been more likely to land on runway 20.

Charts for runway 20 show a prescribed-track visual manoeuvre, an approach which commences from the south before aircraft peel off to the west, pass the airport, then perform a right-hand 180° turn for final.

Grande Comore has high terrain to the south and east of the airport and approach manoeuvring for both runway directions at Moroni is performed over the waters to the west.

The specific phase of flight and intended approach for the A310 have yet to be confirmed.

Flight IY626 had been conducting a service to Moroni from the Yemeni capital Sana'a, says the carrier, with 142 passengers and 11 crew.

Airbus says Yemenia had operated the aircraft since October 1999. It adds that the aircraft had accumulated around 51,900hr in 17,300 cycles.

It has dispatched specialists to the Comoros to assist with the inquiry, and will provide support to the French Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses as well as investigating authorities.

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