Though the A310 that crashed Tuesday off the coast of Africa had been flying for nearly two decades, aviation experts say age alone has little bearing on aircraft safety. "This is an older aircraft. But older aircraft can operate safely for decades if provided with proper maintenance," says an official with the African Civil Aviation Authority. Indeed, U.S. and European airlines routinely fly planes with a similar age and service history. As a full investigation is launched, experts say the maintenance history of the plane involved in Tuesday's accident will be examined. According to media reports, a flight data recorder from the aircraft has been located.

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