Soviet-built Antonov An-24 turboprop airliners should be permanently grounded, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday after an An-24 ditched in the western Siberian Ob river in Russia, killing five on board.
The Angara airlines An-24 with 36 people on board ditched on the Ob about 14 kilometers from the town of Strezhevoy in Tomsk region in the early hours of Monday, after its crew reported a fire in the port engine.
Police helped evacuate people from the aircraft after it ditched.
The plane was en route from Tomsk to the city of Surgut in the neighboring Tyumen region. Police are conducting a criminal investigation into a possible breach of air transport operation and flight safety rules.
Following the accident, President Dmitry Medvedev instructed the government to look into the possibility of early retirement of all An-24s. The first An-24 entered service in the late 1950s and even the newest airframes were built more than 30 years ago.
“The actions of the crew should be assessed,” Medvedev said. “If they acted properly – that’s a reason to award the crewmembers for the fact that they managed to ditch the aircraft and save lives,” he added.
Hundreds of An-24s are still in service, mostly in African and former Soviet countries.
An-24s have been involved in a series of accidents over the past few years, including several fatal crashes.