Russian air force denies firing pilot over wavering plane incident

The Russian Air Force denied on Tuesday media reports that it fired a pilot after videos were posted on the Internet of him losing control of a military aircraft shortly after takeoff.

Media reports said pilot Yury Rodionov quit his Air Force post under pressure from investigators over the incident at the Chkalovsky airfield near Moscow on April 29.

“Russian Air Force Command has not received reports of the dismissal of pilot Yury Rodionov,” Defense Ministry spokesman Vladimir Drik said.

A video posted on YouTube shows the Tu-154B-2 plane wavering in a condition known as Dutch roll, at a very low altitude, minutes after taking off from the airfield.

The pilots managed to land the plane on their second attempt without sustaining any damage to the plane, which was reportedly flown for the first time in 10 years.

Earlier this month Russian Air Force chief Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin confirmed that the incident with the plane was caused by a failure in the on-board flight control system.

Zelin said the pilots showed high professionalism in saving the aircraft and would be decorated for valor and courage.

The results of an investigation into the incident will be made public, Zelin said.

The Tu-154B is a Soviet-designed plane that entered service in the 1970s and is now only used for domestic flights by minor airlines in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot took its 23 remaining Tu-154s out of service in January 2010 over safety concerns.

Russia’s transport watchdog ordered domestic airlines to ground their Tu-154Bs after a Kolavia Tu-154B exploded in a fireball before takeoff from Surgut, in Siberia, in January, killing three people.

MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) 

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