Page last updated at 23:40 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Airbus jet crashes on test flight

French police with body of Airbus crash victim - 27/11/2008
Crews are looking for any survivors in the Mediterranean off France

Two people have been killed and five others are missing after an Airbus A320 jet crashed during a test flight after maintenance work, officials have said.

The plane went into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of France near Perpignan with two Germans and five New Zealanders on board.

Two bodies have been recovered and search crews are looking for the jet's data recorders and the missing people.

The plane was leased by Germany's XL Airways from Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said the cause of the crash was not yet known.

France's civil aviation authority said the plane went down as it approached Perpignan airport after an hour-long test flight.

The wreckage of the plane was reported to be in several pieces, but a rescue official said the fuselage had been found.


Several ships as well as helicopters and a plane were searching for survivors while navy divers were looking for the plane's "black-box" data recorders.

Airbus said the plane had been built in 2005 and had accumulated about 7,000 hours of flying time since then.

Air New Zealand leased the plane to XL Airways in 2006 and it was undergoing checks after a refit before being handed back to Air New Zealand, Mr Fyfe said.

On board were two German pilots, four Air New Zealand engineers and an inspector from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority, said a spokesman for XL Airways.

The A320 is a single-aisle jet that can seat about 150 passengers and is one of the most popular Airbus jets in use.

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