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Russian plane crash ’caused by pilot error on speed data’

World News | Published:

The aircraft plummeted into a snowy field six minutes after take-off, killing all 65 passengers and six crew.

The crash of a Russian passenger plane that killed all 71 people on board may have been caused by the pilots’ failure to activate heating for pressure measurement equipment, resulting in flawed speed data, investigators have said.

The Interstate Aviation Committee said after studying the plane’s flight data recorder that Sunday’s crash occurred after the pilots saw varying data on the two air speed indicators.

The flawed indication came because the pilots failed to turn on the heating unit for pressure measurement equipment before take-off.

The pilots put the An-148 on autopilot after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport but took manual controls back when they saw clashing speed data.

The plane plummeted into a snowy field six minutes after take-off, killing all 65 passengers and six crew.

The flight recorders from the Russian passenger plane (Interstate Aviation Committee/AP)
The flight recorders from the Russian passenger plane (Interstate Aviation Committee/AP)

The committee said it is continuing to study the data, but noted that “erroneous data on the pilots’ speed indicators may have been a factor that triggered the special flight situation”.

It emphasised that the flawed speed data resulted from the “icing of pressure measurement instruments that had their heating systems turned off”.

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Russia Plane Crash
Mourners at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The crew decides whether to have the plane sprayed by de-icing liquid, depending on weather conditions and the state of the plane.

The An-148 model has a patchy safety record, with one previous crash and a string of major incidents in which pilots struggled to land safely.

The carrier, Saratov Airlines, has grounded several other An-148s in its fleet pending the crash investigation.

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