Air France plane banned after hitting building

31st July 2009, Comments 0 comments

An Air France Airbus A330 plane was not allowed to return to France with any passengers after the tip of its right wing brushed against a building in the Congo capital.

Brazzaville – An Air France Airbus A330 hit a building just after landing in Congo's capital Brazzaville and was banned from taking off with any passengers, Civil Aviation Minister Emile Ouosso said Thursday.

The incident occurred on Wednesday night at Brazzaville's Maya-Maya airport. "While the plane was manoeuvring on the tarmac, just after landing, the tip of its right wing brushed a building," Ouosso said.

"Several dozen people were on board the plane," but nobody was hurt, he added.

"Air France officials reassured me that technically the plane could fly without any problem. But by precaution and as a security measure, we grounded it. The plane must return to France without any passengers," the minister said.

Some of those who had been due to fly to Paris on the Airbus on Thursday took another flight via Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while others would wait for an airliner due on Friday, Ouosso said.

An Air France spokesman in Paris played down the incident.

"It was a winglet that simply scraped a building while taxiing towards the parking bay in Brazzaville," the spokesman said. The winglet is a small vertical section at the tip of the wing.

The head of security at Maya-Maya airport, Captain Albert Roy Mossingonda, said the accident scraped the plane when the wing hit a "hangar at the airport."

The wing "has a scratch. That's all you can see with the naked eye. For the rest, the Congo does not have the appropriate material to test and discover deeper damage," Mossingonda said.

Air France is one of the big Western companies flying to the Republic of Congo, with four weekly flights including three direct ones between Paris and Brazzaville.

On 1 June, an Air France Airbus A330 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, at the cost of all 228 lives on board. The cause of that accident was still not known Thursday, but the technical investigation team ruled out an explosion or a change of flight path in early July.

On 30 June, another Airbus, an A310 owned by the Yemenia airline crashed in the Indian Ocean off the Comoro Islands, with 153 passengers and crew. The only survivor was a 12-year-old girl.

AFP / Expatica

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