Russian plane’s brakes not used before fiery crash that killed 41, report says

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The crew of a Russian airliner that caught fire while making an emergency landing, killing 41 people, had not deployed the plane’s air brakes, a report by the country’s civil aviation authority has found, according to a state news agency.

Key points:

  • A report by the civil aviation authority, obtained by the RIA-Novosti news agency, found the pilot changed the plane’s pitch
  • Russian investigators are looking into whether the pilots breached air safety rules
  • Forty-one people were killed when the Aeroflot passenger jet exploded into flames

The report indicated human error could be an important factor in the May 5 crash.

Video footage showed the Aeroflot SSJ100 passenger jet landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, before the rear of the plane bounced twice on the tarmac and exploded into flames.

Other television broadcasts showed the plane spewing large clouds of black smoke as it careened along the runway.

In all, 33 people survived.

The RIA-Novosti news agency said it had obtained a report from Rosaviatsiya, the civil aviation authority, which showed the brakes — flaps that hang down from a plane — were not used.

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It also said the pilot changed the plane’s pitch markedly.

Russia’s main investigative body, the Investigative Committee, previously said both flight recorders had been recovered from the plane, and three main possible causes for the disaster would be examined: insufficient pilot qualifications, equipment failure and weather.

While some Russian news reports initially cited sources as saying the plane caught fire mid-air, the airport said in a statement that it was the hard landing that started the fire.

Russian investigators have been looking into whether the pilots breached air safety rules.

A burned out hull of a plane, with melted plastic clumped on the interior and mounds of debris on the ground.

The SSJ100 went into service in 2011, introduced as a replacement for outdated Soviet-designed aircraft.

Also known as the Superjet, it was heralded as a new phase for Russia’s civil aviation industry.

But the plane has been troubled by concernsabout defects in the horizontal stabilisers.

In 2017, Russia’s aviation authority ordered inspections of all Superjets in the country because of the problems.

More than 8,231 passengers have died in Aeroflot crashes — more than any other airline, according to a report in the UK Telegraph last year.