An Air New Zealand Airbus A320 was on a test flight when it crashed into the sea off the southwest coast of France on Thursday, resulting in at least one fatality and six other persons said to be missing, Reuters reported on Friday morning.
The French civil aviation safety authority, BEA, noted that the crash occurred at 4:46pm local time, as the plane approached the Perpignan airport after a one hour test flight.
The authority indicated that an investigation was underway but that it was still too early to determine the cause of the crash.
“Seven people were involved. We have recovered one dead body,” said a spokesman for the Pyrenees-Orientales prefecture.
The A320, manufactured by Airbus, is a twin-engine aircraft typically configured to seat around 150 passengers.
According to the Pyrenees-Orientales prefecture, the A320 was on a “technical flight,” while being serviced by a local company.
The plane was built in 2005, and Air New Zealand has previously leased it to the German carrier XL Airways. After being refit, it was undergoing testing before being returned to its owner, Airways said.
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