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Mysterious midair catastrophe ends safest run ever

February 13, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Last year was the safest year on record for air travel, which is why the first commercial passenger jet crash for more than a year stands out, the plane’s mysterious demise on Sunday captured on CCTV.

The stricken plane, a Saratov Airlines AN-148, crashed near Argunovo, Russia shortly after takeoff, killing all 65 passengers and six crew.

The 70-seat AN-148 regional jet was en-route to Orsk when it vanished from radar, with a CCTV camera picking up the sudden brief burst of flame, low in the sky, that marked its last moments.

The region is under heavy midwinter snow, forcing search teams to abandon their vehicles and set out on foot to the remote crash site to hunt for debris and human remains.

Whatever overcame the plane was very sudden. It did not make an emergency call. One of the flight recorders was recovered, reportedly, which may provide clues. The plane reportedly did not break up in the sky.

The Antonov AN-148 is a type of plane not used in Australia or in this region. The aircraft is built in Ukraine but most parts come from Russia – two countries that don’t see eye-to-eye at the moment. Saratov Airlines operates between Russian cities and to destinations in Armenia and Georgia.

The plane was being flown by an experienced pilot with 5000 hours of flight experience, Saratov Airlines told Russia’s Ria-Novosti news agency. This is the first fatal commercial incident for the AN-148.

The BBC reported that the airline had been banned from operating international flights in 2015 when a surprise inspection discovered “someone other than the flight crew in a cockpit”.

The airline appealed and tightened its policy before resuming international charter flights in 2016.

Written by Peter Needham

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