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January 3, 2011

Russia Orders Grounding of All Tupolev Tu-154B Jets Following Latest Deadly Accident

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By: BNO News
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Following Saturday’s Tu-154B passenger jet explosion in Siberia, Russia’s transportation watchdog Rostransnadzor on Sunday recommended that all passenger jets of the same type be put out of service until the cause is determined.

A Kogalymavia Airlines Tu-154B smolders after catching fire in Siberia.

The accident happened on New Year’s Day when the engine of a Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft caught fire at Surgut airport in West Siberia. The fire quickly spread throughout the plane before the entire aircraft exploded, killing three people and injuring 43 others.

Most of the 124 people on board – including passengers and crew – were evacuated safely before the explosion, which completely destroyed the Russia-made plane.

“Rostransnadzor has conducted a rapid assessment of the risks of further operation of this type of aircraft,” a statement from the agency said. “In accordance with the analysis, a Rostransnadzor inspector has issued an order in which it is proposed to suspend Tu-154B aircraft of this type until the causes of the aviation incident at Surgut are established. “

Only 14 aircraft of this type are currently in service in Russia, and a spokesman for the aircraft manufacturer said the order to temporarily suspend the use of the aircraft would not affect its business.

Russia has seen several major aviation accidents involving Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft over the past few months. On April 10, 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczynski was among 96 people killed when a Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft crashed near the city of Smolensk in Russia. He was visiting Smolensk for the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish prisoners of war in the village of Katyn.

And on December 4, three people were killed and around 40 others were injured when a Tupolev Tu-154 Dagestan Airlines passenger plane crash-landed at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport while making an emergency landing after it had lost all three engines during the flight. Authorities said 160 passengers, including several children, and eight crew members were on board.