Aviation News

September 19, 2011

Russian Investigators Say Plane Crash Was Caused by Drunk Navigator

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By: BNO News
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Investigations have revealed that the navigator of the Russian aircraft which crashed last June, killing 47 people in the northwestern region of the country, was drunk, Russian officials said on Monday.

Wreckage of RusLine Flight 243 RA-65691 the day after it crashed

Wreckage of RusLine Flight 243 (RA-65691) the day after it crashed. (Photo by Ministry of Emergency Situations)

According to investigations lead by the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) for Russia and other former Soviet states, the accident involving a RusLine Tupolev Tu-134, with 43 passengers and nine crew on board, was in part caused by a “slightly” drunk navigator, RIA Novosti reported.

The MAK report also showed that the aircraft’s crew decided not to go around and try a second approach, despite the plane flying below the minimum safety altitude.

In addition, the report indicated that other contributing factors into the accident included the subordination of the captain to the navigator, who was ‘slightly’ intoxicated, and poor crew resource management by the captain.

The RusLine passenger plane crashed as it was attempting to land at the airport serving Petrozavodsk, the capital city of the Republic of Karelia, which is one of Russia’s federal subjects. It was coming from a scheduled flight from Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport.

Eyewitnesses at the time said the aircraft was descending rapidly and crashed onto a local road, about one kilometer (0.6 mile) from the airport. Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said the plane had broken apart upon the impact, causing a fire which was quickly extinguished by first responders.

Russia has seen several major aviation accidents over the last few years. Most recently, a Yak-Service Airlines plane, with 37 passengers and 8 crew members on board, crashed earlier this month as it was attempting to take off from Tunoshna Airport in Yaroslavl Oblast, which is about 250 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Moscow.

The accident killed 14 members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team as they were on their way to the Belarusian capital of Minsk to play a game. International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel called the crash “the darkest day in the history of our sport.”

In early August, eleven people were killed when an Antonov-12 transport plane crashed in the country’s Far East. And in July, seven people were killed when an Antonov An-24 crashed into the Ob River, about 63 kilometers (39 miles) from Nizhnevartovsk, a city in Russia’s Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug.

Most notably, Polish President Lech Kaczynski was among 96 people killed on April 10, 2010, when his 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.