London, Nov 1: The doomed Russian plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula killing all the 224 people on board had suffered "sustained damage" during a "tail strike" incident while landing at Cairo airport in 2001.
The Airbus A321 had a so-called "tail strike" as it attempted to land at Cairo airport in Egypt in November 2001.
A tail strike is when the rear section of an aircraft hits the runway on landing. The incident took place when the airliner was operated by Middle East Airlines, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
"The aircraft that crashed into the desert in Sinai suffered 'sustained damage' during an incident 14 years ago," The Sunday Times reported.
It was later operated by Onur Air, a Turkish airline, and Saudi Arabian Airlines, and has been flown by Metrojet since 2012.
The "tail strike" incident has come into focus as air accident investigators travelled to the crash site in a mountainous area south of the town of el-Arish. Yesterday, Airbus declined to comment on the earlier incident.
"We are supporting the investigation authorities with all the necessary information we have," a spokesman was quoted as saying.
The aircraft was 18 years old and had accumulated 56,000 flight hours in nearly 21,000 flights.
"That's not old for an aeroplane," said David Learmount, consulting editor at Flightglobal, an aviation news website.
Yesterday's incident is the second tragedy to hit the Kogalymavia airline, which trades as Metrojet, in four years.
Three people were killed and 43 injured in January 2011 when a Tupolev Tu-154 operated by the company caught fire while it was taxiing at Surgut airport in Russia's Urals.
The Airbus A321, part of the A320 series, is a modern airliner and is regarded as having a good safety record.
Seating up to 240 passengers, the twin-engined jet is a "workhorse" of global aviation, used for short to medium-range flights.
An A320 takes off or lands every 2.5 seconds somewhere in the world and, according to Airbus while the A321 variant "offers the lowest fuel burn, emissions and noise footprint in its class."
There have been 16 serious incidents involving the A321 but only one other fatal crash.