Probe Finds Pilot Error In Russian Hockey Team Plane Crash

Investigators into a Russian plane crash that killed 44 people, including all the members of a professional ice hockey team made up of players from eight countries, have blamed pilot error for the tragedy.

The Interstate Aviation Committee said the September 7 crash of a Yak-42 plane outside the city of Yaroslavl was the result of one of the plane’s pilots accidentally activating the brakes during takeoff.

“The immediate cause of the Yak-42 plane crash were the crew’s erroneous actions, namely the pilot stepping on the brake pedals before raising the nose wheel because of the wrong position of the feet on the brake platforms during takeoff,” Aleksei Morozov, chief of a technical investigative commission of the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK), told reporters at a Moscow news conference.

He went on to suggest that one of the pilots might not have been fit to sit behind the controls.

“The forensic medical examination detected phenobarbital in the second pilot’s body,” Morozov said. “That is a drug that has an inhibitory effect on the central nervous system and is banned from use by pilots.”

All the players and coaches from the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team died in the crash.

In addition to its reverberations through a shocked international sports community, the incident highlighted Russia’s abysmal airline safety record and prompted a call by President Dmitry Medvedev for changes in the industry.

compiled from agency and RFE/RL reports

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