A Russian passenger plane has crashed in Siberia.
At least 31 of the 43 people on board have been killed. Survivors are in a serious condition.
It is not known why the twin-engine, turbo-prop aircraft came down shortly after leaving the city of Tyumen bound for the oil town of Surgut.
Operated by domestic airline UTair, it was not an ageing Soviet plane, but an ATR 72, built by a French-Italian firm. That has raised fresh questions about Russia’s poor air safety record.
“Until recently, all dramatic and significant accidents, for example those last year, involved Soviet-designed planes and specialists said old engineering was to blame,” said Russian aviation analyst Oleg Panteleyev of Aviaport Aviation Consultancy. “But regretfully the problem has, in fact, a wider, systemic character and it is impossible to solve it just by substituting old aircraft with new ones.”
Black box flight recorders have been found and should help investigators solve the mystery of this latest tragedy.
Whatever happened, many experts believe pilot training, plane maintenance and air traffic safety must be addressed to reduce the death toll in Russia’s skies.
Pilot error was blamed for last September’s crash in Russia in which 44 people died, including the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team.