Pilot error: hockey crash probe findings released

The final results of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash investigation have been announced. With pilot error being the main reason behind the tragedy, the commission also revealed a banned substance in the blood of a crew member.

“In answering the checklist item ‘takeoff data,’ the captain said ‘Calculated, reported.’ However, no concrete values of takeoff weight, centering, and pre-calculated speeds were named during the takeoff sequence,”

Aleksey Morozov, the head of the IAC technical commission, told a news conference on Wednesday.

“The analysis has shown that the crew did not calculate the takeoff parameters,” Morozov also said.

Additionally, serious shortcomings occurred during the retraining of the crew members in operating the Yak-42 aircraft.

“Following a theoretical retraining course for the Yak-42, the captain did not carry out the flight training program for the length of time stipulated by the documents,” Morozov stressed.

“The simulator training was conducted formally, with long pauses, which did not help the crew acquire stable skills for the piloting of a Yak-42,” he said.

“The [Yak Service] airline’s flight administration did not properly control the quality of mastering the aircraft,” Morozov said.

As a result, while one of the pilots was accelerating the plane before the takeoff, the other applied the brakes.

“Test pilots established in a flight experiment that an erroneous application of the brake pedals during takeoff is possible only if the pilot’s feet are placed by mistake on the braking floor. Even slight pressure on the pedals may have been overlooked by the pilot,” Morozov told the media.

“The brake pedals could have been pressed either by the crew commander, who was steering the plane, or by the second pilot, who regularly flew Yak-40 planes and was only learning to steer Yak-42s,” Morozov said.

Meanwhile, the blood of the second pilot was found to contain a medication that is banned during aircraft operation.

“We found Phenobarbital in the system of the second pilot, which is a medication that slows down the central nervous system and is banned for use by pilots,” Morozov revealed.

The tragedy happened on September 7 just outside the city Yaroslavl. A Yak-42 aircraft carrying the players, coaches and the personnel of one of the KHL’s top squads, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, crashed immediately after takeoff from the local airport. Only one flight crew member survived the crash.

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