Experiment points to pilot error in Russian crash
A pilot helping to investigate a Russian jet crash that killed
44 people said Thursday that a simulation pointed to pilot error as
The Yak-42 jet crashed into the banks of the Volga River on
Sept. 7 moments after takeoff from the city of Yaroslavl in western
Russia, wiping out the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional ice hockey
team, which included several former NHL players.
Test pilot Vasily Sevastyanov told state-run Channel One
television that the plane went into a spin because a pilot pulled
it up too sharply following an abnormally slow run.
Officials have not yet announced the reason for the crash, but
have said that all the plane’s systems were functioning normally
Russian media reports said the investigators believe that one of
the pilots accidentally activated the wheel brakes during takeoff,
while another pilot pulled the plane up to a critical angle in a
desperate attempt to get it into the air. The sharp maneuver caused
the jet to crash immediately after takeoff.
Sevastyanov, who participated in the crash simulation at the
Zhukovsky flight test center outside Moscow, said a ”braking
force” kept the plane down during its run, and an attempt to raise
the plane’s nose would lead to a crash.
The only person who survived the crash, flight engineer
Alexander Sizov, told Channel One from his hospital bed that he
couldn’t say whether the plane’s brake was activated during
The crash was the latest in a string of air disasters that have
raised concern about plummeting aviation safety standards in Russia
and prompted President Dmitry Medvedev to suggest replacing all
Soviet-era aircraft with Western-made planes.
Industry experts note, however, that the recent air crashes in
Russia are rooted not simply in the planes’ age, but in a myriad of
other problems, including insufficient crew training, crumbling
airports, lax government controls and widespread neglect of safety
in the pursuit of profit.