Fuel suspected in Russian plane crash

Added by on September 10, 2011

This Yak-42D, registration RA-42434, carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team crashed shortly after takeoff on Wednesday / photo: airliners.net

Tunoshna airport resumed operations on Friday, two days after a Yak-42D airplane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 43 out of 45 people aboard.

The plane, registration number RA-42434, was carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team when it crashed into the banks of the Volga River after failing to gain altitude shortly after takeoff. Two passengers survived – one crew member and one hockey player with both in critical condition.

Russian officials allowed the airport to resume operations yet planes leaving the airport are not being allowed to use local fuel. Investigators are reported to suspect that contaminated fuel could have been a factor in the accident.

Russian investigators recovered the black box data recorders from the plane’s cockpit, yet they were unable to recover any data because the tapes were water-logged. The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), the Russian agency that oversees the use and management of civil aviation, is currently reported to be attempting to dry-out the recordings.

Russian investigators need the recordings to determine what was happening on the flight in the minutes before Wednesday’s crash.

Reports said that accident occurred after the aircraft travelled past the end of the runway onto the grass, finally lifting off about 400 metres past the end of the runway. The aircraft climbed very slowly and made contact obstacles as it travelled, until it crashed and broke up on the banks of the Volga River.

In a statement, the IAC said all of the plane’s engines were working until the moment of collision with obstacles. The statement also said that the stabilizer was set to 8.7 degrees, or nose up position, and the flaps were set in the take-off position at 20 degrees before takeoff, all of which are standard operating procedures.

The Yak-42D aircraft, registration number RA-42434, was built in 1993 and was operated by Yak Service. It had previously been under regulators’ scrutiny and was banned from flying in the European Union by the European Safety Agency (ESA) in November 2010. The ESA could not find proof that the plane was furnished with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)-mandated equipment in addition to a number of findings raised during ramp checks having an impact on safety. The ICAO is a United Nations agency that oversees international air transportation standards and recommended practices.