Airbus crash not on list of casualties

AUCKLAND - The crash of an Air New Zealand Airbus A320 off the coast of France today ranked lowly on the list of bad air disasters in terms of casualties.

However, it was one of the largest New Zealand-owned aircraft to crash.

Seven people are believed to have died when the A320 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea near Perpignan off the south coast of France, about 5am (NZ time) today.

The Airbus was at the end of its lease to XL Airways of Germany and was being flown by German pilots when it crashed.

It had been repainted in Air New Zealand colours and was on an acceptance flight before it was to be returned to New Zealand in a few days.

New Zealand Aviation history is peppered with air crashes which have killed three, four, five, six or seven people, although none of them have been in an aircraft as big as the 150-seat A320.

The first crash of an aircraft on a commercial flight with passengers was in 1942 when five people died when their aircraft hit Mt Richmond near Nelson.

A month later, 11 American servicemen died when their Flying Fortress crashed as it took off from Whenuapai in Auckland.

The Airbus A320 crash happened 29 years to the day after one of the world's worst and most memorable air crashes.

On November 29, 1979, an Air New Zealand DC10 crashed on Mt Erebus in Antarctic, killing all 257 passengers and crew.

Other significant New Zealand air disasters or crashes which killed five people or more include:

* Sept, 1942 - Hudson bomber crashes near Tasman Bay, six dead.

* 1942 - Liberator bomber crashes near Whenuapai, 14 dead.

* Aug 21, 1944 - Two Hudson bombers disappear, 14 dead.

* Oct 23, 1948 - NAC Electra crashes on Mt Ruapehu, 13 dead.

* Mar 18, 1949 - NAC Lodestar crashes on approach to Paraparaumu, 15 dead

* Nov 21, 1961 - Aero Commander crashes into Mt Ruapehu, six dead.

* Feb 12, 1962 - Dragonfly crashes in Fiordland, five dead.

* Jul 3, 1963 - NAC DC3 crashes in the Kaimai Ranges, 25 dead.

* Mar 19, 1979 - Cessna crashes near Turangi, six dead.

* Dec 9, 1982 - Helicopter crashes at Turoa skifield, Mt Ruapehu, five dead.

* Jan 2, 1986 - Cessna crashes on takeoff near Picton, seven dead.

* Oct 4, 1986 - Cessna hits powerlines and crashes into sea in Tory Channel, eight dead.

* May 12, 1988 - Piper crashes into hills near Wanganui, nine dead.

* Feb 14, 1989 - Helicopter hits power lines over Shotover River and crashes, five dead.

* Aug 8, 1989 - Britten-Normander Islander crashes between Milford Sound and Wanaka, 10 dead.

* Dec 39, 1989 - Two Cessnas collide over Milford Sound, one crashes, seven dead.

* Oct 25, 1993 - Nomad 23 crashes near Franz Josef Glacier, nine dead.

* Oct 29, 1994 - Helicopter crashes near Fox Glacier, seven dead.

* Mar 29, 1995 - Beechcraft crashes near Hamilton, six dead.

* Jun 9, 1995 - Ansett New Zealand Dash 8 crashes near Palmerston North, four dead.

* Jan 29, 1996 Cessna Caravan crashes near Picton, five dead.

Jan 3, 1997 - Cessna crashes near Queenstown, six dead.

Aug 19, 1998 - Cessna 402 crashes in Foveaux Strait, five dead.

* Apr 12, 1999 - Helicopter crashes at Lake Poteriteri, five dead.

* Apr 18, 1999 - Cessna floatplane crashes in Fiordland, five dead.

* Mar 8, 2000 - Helicopter crashes at Manapouri, six dead.

* Jan 19, 2001 - Cessna 207 crashes in Fiordland, six dead.

* Jun 6, 2003 - Piper Chieftain crashes near Christchurch Airport, eight dead.

- NZPA

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