Faulty brakes may be to blame in Russian plane crash

Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:18am EST
 

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Faulty brakes may be to blame for a Russian airliner sliding off the runway and smashing onto a highway near Moscow, killing five people, a member of the crash investigation team said on Sunday.

Investigators said they were examining the black boxes to try to determine the cause of Saturday's crash, which cracked the wings off the Tupolev-204 plane and split the fuselage clean into three pieces.

If they find bad brakes were at fault, it would match a warning issued to the state-owned Tupolev by Russia's aviation authority to fix problems with the brakes that may have caused a Tu-204 with 70 people onboard to go off a Siberian runway on December 21.

Any sign that the catastrophe during peak holiday travel could have been avoided will worsen concerns over the country's poor air-safety record, despite President Vladimir Putin's calls to improve controls.

"After landing the pilot uses all the available brake systems on the plane, but for some reason the machine did not stop," a member of the investigation team told the Interfax new agency. "Most likely it was faulty reverse engines or brakes."

A fifth crew member of the Red Wing plane, which was traveling without passengers, died of her injuries in hospital on Sunday, the company said.

Despite icy weather conditions, the plane had been piloted by an experienced crew with many hours of flying under their belt, according to Russia's aviation safety body.

Television footage showed the jet with smoke billowing from the tail end and the cockpit broken clean off after the crash.

A photo showed a crew member, still strapped to a seat, sprawled on the pavement after apparently being hurled far from the plane during its impact with the highway barrier.   Continued...

 
An aircraft wreckage lies next to a highway near Moscow's Vnukovo Airport December 30, 2012. A Russian airliner flying without passengers broke into pieces after it slid off the runway and crashed onto a highway outside Moscow upon landing on Saturday, killing four of the eight crew on board and leaving smoking chunks of fuselage on the icy road. REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky