Russian airliner crashed after 'tired' pilots botched the first landing attempt

They deliberately put the plane into steep dive before diving nose-first into the ground

Moscow

Video footage of the Russian air crash in which all 50 people on board were killed, including one Briton, shows the Tatarstan Airlines jet diving nose-first towards the ground before exploding in a huge ball of fire.

Investigators have determined that pilot error was almost certainly the cause of the disaster in the eastern regional capital Kazan.

After studying the plane’s black box data, investigators from the Inter-State Aviation Commission said the plane’s engines and other systems were functioning right up until it slammed into the ground.

According to its report, the two pilots had botched a landing attempt and were preparing to try again. They pulled up at a sharp angle, causing a loss of speed, then tried to gain it back by going into a steep dive at 2,200 feet.

The Commission  confirmed what many had suspected in the immediate aftermath of the crash and added another woeful line to Russia’s abysmal air safety record. In 2011 it was deemed the most dangerous country in the world for air travel, according to aviation consultants Ascend.

Fatalities and crashes in Russia exceeded those in all other countries, the report found. That year, 10 fatal air accidents killed 119 people in Russia, including a crash in Yaroslavl that killed the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional hockey team.

Experts say pilot fatigue continues to plague of the country’s rapidly expanding airline industry, raising doubts that reforms have improved safety. Russia’s leadership has promised reforms to combat the rash of air accidents, but little has been achieved.

“It was not just one plane that crashed in Kazan but the entire airline industry and, to be honest, the entire Russian government system,” opposition State Duma deputy Dmitry Gudkov wrote on his blog after Sunday’s crash.

Officials have blamed small “dwarf” carriers for cutting corners and evading regulations, resulting in the majority of accidents. After the Yaroslavl crash in September 2011, then-president Dmitry Medvedev called for “the number of airlines to be radically reduced”,  and the Transportation Ministry drafted legislation stipulating that a company have a minimum of 10 planes to operate, to be raised to 20 planes by this year.

No law was passed, however, and in April 2012 a flight packed with oil executives operated by the small carrier Utair crashed in the Siberian region of Tyumen, killing 31.

Tatarstan Airlines, the operator of the Boeing 737-500 that crashed Sunday, is a small carrier, with seven planes, according to its website. The plane was reportedly being leased from a Bulgarian company and was previously involved in minor accidents in Brazil and Kazan. Tatarstan Airlines could not be reached for comment.

According to the prosecutor general’s office, human error causes about 80 per cent of air crashes in Russia, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported. Flight personnel unions say packed flight schedules are increasing mistakes, and the rapid pace of growth in Russia’s air industry was forcing pilots to fly too much, with regulations not being properly enforced.

“The main problem is fatigue of pilots,” Igor Obodkov, spokesman for the Sheremetyevo Air Staff Union, a union for employees of Russia’s largest Aeroflot airline, told The Independent.

Russian law stipulates 70 days of vacation for pilots each year, but an investigation of Aeroflot found that many pilots were owed 100 back-days, Obodkov said.

The pilots’ “tiredness could have influenced events” that led to the Kazan disaster, he added.

He noted that the Commission’s report of the April 2012 crash in Tyumen showed that the plane’s pilots had not had enough rest between flights.

“We are suspecting that they will find same thing here. People were tired,” Obodkov said.

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
news

As anti-Semitic attacks rise, Grant Feller re-evaluates his identity

Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
people
Life and Style
food and drink

Savoury patisserie is a thing now

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Services Team Leader

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a prog...

Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare high quality opportunity for a...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £50 per day: Randstad Education Group: Job opportunities for SEN Teachin...

Secondary teachers required in King's Lynn

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers re...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?