October 27, 2020

Probe says hockey team crash caused by pilot error

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MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian jet crash that killed 44 people, including an entire professional ice hockey team, was caused by pilots inadvertently putting on the brakes during takeoff, investigators said Wednesday, blaming poor crew training and lax oversight.

The Interstate Aviation Committee said the Sept. 7 crash of the Yak-42 plane near the city of Yaroslavl in central Russia occurred because one of the pilots accidentally activated the brakes during takeoff and then pulled the plane up too sharply in a desperate attempt to take off.

It was one of the worst aviation disasters ever in sports, shocking Russia and the world of hockey, as the dead included 36 players, coaches and staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team. The only player who survived the crash later died of burns. A flight engineer was the sole survivor.

Alexei Morozov, who led the investigation, said the crew still had enough time to abort the takeoff safely at the moment when they realized that it had gone wrong.

He blamed the plane’s owner, Yak-Service, for failing to observe safety standards and adequately train the crew. The company was closed in September by Russia’s federal aviation authority following a check that found severe violations.

“The company practically lacked a proper system of flight oversight and controls over air safety,” Morozov said.

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