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
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears