By Wesley Satterwhite,
International News Writer
Fifty people died after a passenger jet crashed in Kazan, Russia. The 44 passengers and 6 crew were on board a Boeing 737-500 operated by Tatarstan Airlines. The crash occurred during the aircraft’s second landing attempt and in rainy weather and high winds.
The Interstate Aviation Committee, who investigates aircraft incidents across the former Soviet Union, reports that the crew was unable to land the plane on their first attempt. The aircraft then began to stall in a steep climb which was over-compensated by the crew, which caused the plane to dive down.
The second attempt is where things went wrong. According to Emergencies Ministry spokesman, Irina Rossius, “The plane attempted to land several times. One of the [fuel] tanks detonated while the plane was landing,” the aircraft then erupted into flames.
Tatarstan Flight 363 took off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport at 6:25 p.m., crashing in Kazan at 7:20 p.m.. Kazan is approximately 450 miles east of Moscow.
The Emergencies Ministry published a list of all the victims. Irek Minnikhanov, 24, the son of Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov and Lieutenant General Aleksandr V. Antonov, 56, the regional head of Russia’s Federal Security Service were among the dead. A British national, Donna Bull, 53, was also killed.
Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, personally called Minnikhanov expressing his condolences. Putin established a government commission to investigate the incident.
The US National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB, has also offered to send a team of experts headed by senior investigator Dennis Jones. Russia’s federal aviation investigation authority, Rosaviation, will join in the investigation.
Boeing, the aircrafts manufacturer, released a statement after the crash. “Boeing’s thoughts are with those affected by the crash of the Tatarstan aircompany flight. Boeing is prepared to provide technical assistance to the investigating authority as it investigates the accident.”
The Boeing 737 is the most popular commercial aircraft in the world.
Authorities and the airline’s insurance company have confirmed that a sum of $93,000 will be paid to each of the victims families.
The crash underlines the poor safety record of regional airlines and airports in Russia. As the world’s largest country, spanning 9 time zones from the Baltic to the Pacific, air travel is critical.
While Russia’s main carrier, Aeroloft is known for good service and has an upgraded fleet, many regional airlines in the county operate aging aircraft. The 737 involved in the crash was 23-years-old.
According to the International Air transportation Association, Russia and the former Soviet Republics have the worst air safety record in the world. In 2011 air incidents were three times the world average.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 26 print edition.
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