Transport Airlines

Russian Regulator Grounds Airline After Finding Undertrained, Overworked Pilots

Dec 20, 2013 11:00 am

Skift Take

It took a crash that killed 50 people for the Russian regulator to discover that pilots were still flying with licenses from an illegally operating training center. Maybe the regulator’s leaders should be grounded as well.

— Samantha Shankman

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Maxim Shemetov  / Reuters

Wreckage is seen at the site of a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 crash at Kazan airport November 18, 2013. Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Russia’s airline regulator said on Friday it is grounding regional carrier Tatarstan Airlines after an investigation into a crash that killed 50 people last month revealed some of its pilots and personnel were overworked and inadequately trained.

A Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 crashed and exploded at the airport in the Tatarstan region’s capital Kazan on November 17, killing all 44 passengers – including a son of the oil-producing Russia province’s leader – and six crew.

The crash spotlighted the poor safety record of regional airlines that ply internal routes in Russia.

The regulator Rosaviatsia said it will cancel the airlines’ license from December 31 after inspections revealed “violations in established flight norms, working hours and rest periods for the flight crew and qualification standards of the crew.”

Crash investigators have said the pilot of the ill-fated passenger jet may have received his license from a training center that was later closed on suspicion of operating illegally.

They have said the plane crashed after the pilot pushed the steering column into a position that pitched it into a nosedive in an attempt to prepare for landing after an initial approach was aborted. No technical problems had been reported on the passenger jet.

The airline could not immediately be reached for comment on losing its license. It has said the crew had plenty of experience but the lead pilot had never before been in a position in which he had to make a second landing attempt during an actual flight.

Writing by Steve Gutterman and Alissa de Carbonnel Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.

Copyright (2013) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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