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Russian 737 crash investigation begins

Nov. 18, 2013, Kazan, Rus. - The passenger jet that crashed in the city of Kazan went down in a steep dive and exploded in a giant fireball on the tarmac in a chilling video broadcast Monday by Russian television stations.


November 18, 2013
By CBC News

The Boeing 737 plane belonging to Tatarstan Airlines crashed Sunday
night 720 kilometres east of Moscow, killing all 50 people aboard. 

 

It was making its second attempt at a landing, according to
Alexander Poltinin, head of the local branch of Russia's Investigative
Committee, who said investigators are looking into possible pilot error
or equipment failure.

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The traffic controller at the Kazan airport who contacted the plane
before the crash said the crew told him they weren't ready to land as it
was approaching but didn't specify the problem.

 

The 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. It was confirmed as authentic to The
Associated Press by the emergency press service at Kazan airport and
other Russian officials.

 

Fragments of the plane littered the tarmac and fire crews spent
hours extinguishing the blaze. Poltinin said it could take weeks to
identify the remains.
 
The investigators have found both of the plane's black boxes but said
they were damaged. The boxes contain the recording of its systems
performance and crew conversations and are essential for the crash
probe. 


Magomed Tolboyev, a highly decorated Russian test pilot, said
on Rossiya television that it wasn't immediately clear why the crew was
unable to land on their first try in good weather, saying it could be
linked to a failure of some of the plane's systems or a crew error.

Investigators on Monday started looking through the company's
records as part of the crash probe. The plane was built 23 years ago and
had seen service with seven other carriers prior to being commissioned
by Tatarstan Airlines.


In 2001, it was damaged in a landing accident in Brazil that
injured no one. The aircraft has been in service with Tatarstan Airlines
since 2008.


The company insisted that the aircraft was in good condition for the flight.


The carrier has had a good safety record, but appears to have
run into financial problems recently. Its personnel 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 plane crashes in
Russia on a cost-cutting mentality at some of its carriers, with safety
sometimes neglected in the chase for profits. Insufficient pilot
training and lax government controls over industry also have been cited
as factors affecting flight safety.


Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the government
should tighten its oversight of carriers and subsidize the upgrading of
their fleets to improve flight safety, according to remarks Monday on
the Prime news agency.


The son of the provincial governor and the chief of the local
branch of Russia's main security agency were among the victims, as was a
British national, Donna Bull.


Russia's last deadly airliner crash was in December, when a Russian-made Tupolev belonging to Red Wings airline careered off the runway
at Moscow's Vnukovo airport. It rolled across a snowy field and slammed
into the slope of a highway, killing five of its eight crew onboard.


A 2011 crash in Yaroslavl killed 44 people including a professional hockey team and was blamed on pilot error.