Pilot error caused the latest Russian airliner crash which killed 50 people in Kazan, investigators say.
The country’s aviation safety watchdog said the pilots of the Boeing 737 somehow let the plane become too slow at a low altitude, resulting in a diving crash that killed all on board.
The Interstate Aviation Committee said the plane’s engines and other systems were working fine until the moment it hit the ground. It said the crew had failed to make a proper landing approach on their first attempt and then began a second run.
They put the plane’s engines on maximum power, raising the nose up at a sharp angle, causing a quick loss of speed. The crew then tried to gain speed by taking the plane into a dive but hit the ground at a near-vertical angle.
The report drew its conclusions from one of the plane’s black box recorders. It said the climb and the subsequent plunge lasted only about a minute.
The plane struck the ground at about 280 mph, the report said.
The plane belonging to Tatarstan Airlines was arriving from Moscow into the central city of Kazan, capital of the republic of Tatarstan.
A brief video taken by an airport security camera showed the plane going down at high speed at a nearly vertical angle and then hitting the ground and exploding.
Such “loss of control” accidents, as they are called in the aviation industry, are responsible for more deaths than any other type of air crash because they are rarely survivable, according to the Flight Safety Foundation, an industry-supported global aviation safety organisation.
Company records showed the plane was built 23 years ago and had been used by seven other carriers prior to being picked up by Tatarstan Airlines in 2008.
In 2001, it was damaged in a landing accident in Brazil that injured no one. The company has insisted that the aircraft was in good condition and the pilots were experienced.
The carrier has had a good safety record but appears to have run into financial problems recently. Its staff went on strike in September over back wages, and the Kazan airport authority has gone to arbitration to claim what it said was Tatarstan Airlines’ debt for servicing its planes.
Industry experts have blamed some recent Russian crashes on a cost-cutting mentality that neglects safety in the chase for profits. Insufficient pilot training and lax government controls over the industry also have been cited as factors affecting Russian flight safety.