The Russian equivilent to the UK’s AAIB or the U.S. NTSB have had a pretty quiet time over winter with Russian airlines managing NOT to crash their planes during what is undoubtedly the most difficult time of the year in which to fly. But it seems that they’ve made up for lost time and started the year’s statistics off with a bang already with the latest accident to hit the headlines occuring today in the Siberian town of Tyumen, en-route to Surgut.
The aircraft in question this time is not one of those dinosaur relics of the Soviet era, but rather a western built ATR aircraft. However it did involve the airline UTAir, who have form when it comes to killing its passengers by way of aviation accidents. Their previous accidents involved a TU-134 in 2007 which killed 7 and injured 26, a Boeing 737 which overran the runway when landing, and two helicopter accidents that killed 10 people between them.
The cause of the accident is still as yet unknown. One can only speculate if it was to do with poor weather or icing that brought the ATR down, mechanical problems with the airframe or engine(s) or if it was pilot error by way of spacial disorientation, poor handling or something else entirely. It’s not unheard of for Russian pilots to arrive and settle themselves into the cockpit reeking of alcohol, especially in the remote wilderness areas of Siberia. Nor is it uncommon for Russian pilots to take unnecessary risks and choosing to fly, when their Western trained pilots would delay or simply scrub the flight altogether. The latter decision to fly when one shouldn’t is invariably the result of pressure exerted on Russian crews by management, who simply view profits before peoples lives as being more important. And, afterall, life is cheap in Russia.
With 15 planes crashing all across Russia last year, killing over 120 passengers, it’s no wonder that Russia has earned herself the reputation as the most dangerous place to fly a commercial airplane. Given a choice, I will avoid EVER flying a Russian airline. That being said, if needs must, then I limit my flying to one of Aeroflot’s leased fleet of Airbus aircraft. Since those aircraft are leased from an Irish lessor who maintains the airplane. So I only have to worry about how much vodka the captain had to drink the night before.