Sunday, February 11, 2018

F-16 Fighting Falcon lands safely at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (KPHX) after striking a cable

PHOENIX, Ariz. - The Air Force is investigating an incident that occurred involving an F-16 Fighting Falcon Sunday.

According to 1st Lt. Lacey L. Roberts, a Netherlands F-16 Fighting Falcon based out of the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing struck a cable near Black Canyon City at 10:00 a.m.

The pilot landed the aircraft safely at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Story and video ➤

Cirrus VK-30, N52TH: Fatal accident occurred February 11, 2018 near Agua Dulce Airpark (L70), Los Angeles County, California

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: AGUA DULCE, CA
Accident Number: WPR18FA088
Date & Time: 02/11/2018, 1059 PST
Registration: N52TH
Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On February 11, 2018, about 1059 Pacific standard time, an experimental amateur built Cirrus VK-30, N52TH, collided with the ground while maneuvering in the vicinity of Agua Dulce, California. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane sustained damage to the fuselage and all the flight control surfaces. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site, at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The cross-country flight originated from Henderson Executive Airport (HND), Las Vegas, Nevada, about 1000, with an intended destination of Van Nuys Airport (VNY), Van Nuys, California.

A witness, located in the vicinity of the accident site and accustom to hearing/seeing air traffic reported that he observed the airplane flying straight and level, about 2,000 ft to 3,000 ft above the ground. He stated that as the airplane got closer to the mountains it looked like the wind had pushed the right wing up. The airplane pitched downward into a near vertical attitude. The witness added that, when the right wing lifted, it sounded like the pilot "maxed the engine out". He further stated there was a distinct difference in engine sound from the first time he saw the airplane when it went vertical. He did not see any smoke, or anything fall from the airplane as it descended towards the ground.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted terrain adjacent to a series of power transmission lines about 2.5 miles south east of Agua Dulce. The wreckage was transported to a secure facility for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: HASTINGS THOMAS G
Registration: N52TH
Model/Series: CIRRUS VK 30 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPMD, 2582 ft msl
Observation Time: 1853 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / -18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots, 70°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:  
Departure Point: LAS VEGAS, NV (HND)
Destination: VAN NUYS, CA (VNY)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 34.454722, -118.301111 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Edison refers all comment about power lines and plane crash to feds

Southern California Edison officials questioned about reports of power lines near the scene of last month’s fatal plane crash near Agua Dulce referred all official comment about the crash to federal aviation investigators.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board noted in their recently-released preliminary report that the airplane “impacted terrain adjacent to a series of power transmission lines about 2.5 miles southeast of Agua Dulce.”

A day after the fatal crash, The Signal asked Edison officials if the plane hit Edison wires?

On Feb. 16, Edison spokeswoman Susan Cox told The Signal: “Any inquiry into the Feb. 11 plane crash near Acton should be directed to the National Transportation Safety Board, the lead investigator.”

The Signal asked the same question of Edison officials Monday, in light of a NTSB preliminary report specifically mentioning the proximity of power lines to the crash site.

Edison spokeswoman Julia Roether, reiterated the utility’s response, telling The Signal: “All inquiries into the Feb. 11 plane crash near Acton should be directed to the lead investigator at National Transportation Safety Board.

In a telephone interview Monday, Roether was asked if Edison made repairs to any of its wires in Agua Dulce around the time of the crash.  She said: “Even if I knew, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it.”

When asked if efforts by Edison to fasten warning balls to power lines around the SCV in the days following the crash were scheduled work assignments or a response to the crash, Roether said: “I don’t have any information for you.”

On Feb. 11, an experimental amateur built Cirrus VK-30 airplane hit the ground while maneuvering in the vicinity of Agua Dulce.

The crash killed the pilot Thomas Gordon Hastings, 65, of Winnetka, and three members of his family including: his 27-year-old daughter Amber Hill; her husband, Jacob Hill, age 25; and the pilot’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Madison Hastings-Saxelby.

The NTSB report states: “A witness, located in the vicinity of the accident site and accustom to hearing/seeing air traffic reported that he observed the airplane flying straight and level, about 2,000 ft to 3,000 ft above the ground.

“He stated that as the airplane got closer to the mountains it looked like the wind had pushed the right wing up.

“The airplane pitched downward into a near vertical attitude.

“The witness added that, when the right wing lifted, it sounded like the pilot “maxed the engine out”.

The NTSB investigation is ongoing.

Original article can be found here ➤

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral expenses for all four victims. To donate, click here.

AGUA DULCE, Calif. (KABC) --  A witness who saw a small plane moments before it crashed in the Agua Dulce area - which killed four family members -- described the frightening moments before and after the tragedy occurred.

Federal investigators were back at the scene of the crash on Monday, combing through the wreckage of the small plane that crashed in the mountain range of the area Sunday morning.

There are a few homes a few acres away from where the plane went down. One man, who didn't want to be identified, described what he and his family heard and saw right before the plane crashed near his home.

"Here comes the plane right over the house, literally banks off to the right, really low. I mean, obviously, we're in a ravine in some mountains here, and it clipped the power lines, and it spun it around, and we didn't see anything else after that. We just got in the truck, brought a shovel, tried to get there as fast as we could. My dad and my neighbor were the first people there, and it didn't look too grim. It was a sad, you know, sad site," he said.

Friends and family have identified the four on board as Tom Hastings, his daughter, Amber Hill, her husband, Jacob Hill, and the woman's daughter, 9-year-old Madison.

Neighbors near the Hastings' San Fernando Valley home said the family enjoyed flying the plane that Hastings built years ago for the family to enjoy.

"He loved to fly, and they tried to fly on vacations as much as they could," said friend Jean Buetow. "He even extended his garage out on the side street there to make room for it. He spent all of his free time working on it, putting it together."

While the investigation continues into what caused the crash, the man who described what he saw said he'll never forget what happened.

Madison Hastings Saxelby, 9, with her stepfather, Jacob Hill, 25, and mother Amber Hill, 27. (Hastings family)

Thomas Hastings, the pilot of the plane that crashed, and Joyce Hastings, who was not on board. (Hastings family)

A small plane crashed in the rugged hills near Agua Dulce and the 14 Freeway in northern Los Angeles County on Sunday morning, killing all four on board, authorities said.

The Cirrus VK-30 plane crashed near the intersection of Mesa Grande and Briggs roads on a hillside between the highway and Soledad Canyon Road, said Art Marrujo, Los Angeles County fire dispatch supervisor. The reports of the crash came in around 10:55 a.m., he said.

The pilot was identified by a family member as Thomas Hastings, 65, who was returning to his Winnetka home after a weekend trip to Las Vegas with his daughter Amber Hill, 27; her husband, Jacob Hill, 25; and her daughter, Madison Hastings Saxelby, 9.

"They do this trip every couple months," said the pilot's son Jake Hastings, 30. "A routine, normal thing."

It should have been an hourlong flight. Hastings began to worry when he didn't hear from his family an hour after they were due to arrive. He called his father and sister several times, but no one answered.

"I had an eerie feeling about it," he said.

Soon after, Hastings saw photographs of the crash on the news, and he knew right away: it was his father's plane. He recognized the Cirrus VK-30 — one of nine registered with the Federal Aviation Administration — as the one his father spent nearly a decade building in their garage.

He said the plane hit power lines before crashing about four miles from Agua Dulce Airpark.

Thomas Hastings was an avid and experienced flier who obtained his pilot license before he could drive, at 15, with dreams of becoming a fighter pilot, his son said. He ended up working instead as a mechanical engineer and was about a year away from retiring from his job at Haas Automation.

Since he finished building the plane in 1999, Thomas Hastings "traveled all around the world," his son said. The elder Hastings frequently volunteered for the Young Eagles program, which introduces youth to aviation with a free ride on an airplane.

"He's given thousands and thousands of rides," Jake Hastings said. "He just wants people to enjoy and love flying."

He said his sister, Amber Hill, was a successful eyelash-extension artist who enjoyed family vacations with her husband and daughter. At school, his niece, Madison, was known as the "mad scientist," a nickname she earned after making clay objects and edible slime concoctions.

"They love each other so much and had a great life," Jake Hastings said.

Recently, the family took the plane to Big Bear to celebrate Christmas. Most Fridays for the last couple of years, the whole family gathered for dinner.

"I got a chance to have so many experiences with them," he said.

The crash scene is being turned over to investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB said in a tweet that the plane was a VK-30, a fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft sold by Cirrus Aircraft in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a kit plane when the company was known as Cirrus Design.

The VK-30 plane is classified as an amateur-built aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration, meaning that a "major portion" of the plan was fabricated and assembled by the owner for his or her own education or recreation.

The plane had undergone its annual inspection a month or so ago, the pilot's son said.

Former U.S. astronaut Robert Overmyer was killed in a VK-30 kit plane in 1996, according to news reports from the time.

Original article can be found here ➤

Thomas Hastings, 65, is seen in a photo posted to his Facebook page. He was flying a small private plane that crashed near Santa Clarita on Feb. 11, 2018, killing him and three other people.

A small plane crashed in the rugged hills near Agua Dulce and the 14 Freeway in northern Los Angeles County on Sunday morning, killing all four on board, authorities said.

The Cirrus VK-30 plane crashed near the intersection of Mesa Grande and Briggs roads on a hillside between the highway and Soledad Canyon Road, said Los Angeles County Fire Dispatch Supervisor Art Marrujo. The fire reports of the crash came in around 10:55 a.m., he said.

The victims were only identified as three adults and one child.

The crash site is about 4 miles from the Agua Dulce Airpark but it is unclear if the plane was arriving or departing from the small strip.

Though the plane crashed, it did not catch fire, Marrujo said. The scene is being turned over to investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a tweet the plane was a VK-30, a fixed wing single-engine aircraft sold by Cirrus Aircraft in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a kit plane when the company was known as Cirrus Design.

The VK-30 plane is classified as an amateur-built aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration meaning a "major portion" of the plane was fabricated and assembled by the owner for their own education or recreation.

Former US astronaut Robert Overmyer was killed in a VK-30 kit plane in 1996, according to news reports from the time.

The aircraft is relatively rare — only nine are registered with the FAA.

Original article can be found here ➤

AGUA DULCE, Calif. (KABC) --  A child and three adults were killed Sunday morning when a small plane crashed in the Agua Dulce area northeast of Santa Clarita, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Firefighters and sheriff's deputies responded shortly before 11 a.m. to the 30500 block of Briggs Road, where the wreckage of the aircraft was seen just a few feet from the roadway. The remote location is about a mile southeast of the Agua Dulce Road interchange on the 14 Freeway.

"The aircraft, a Cirrus, crashed under unknown circumstances," said Allen Kenitzer, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

LACFD Battalion Chief George Cruz said the deceased were a child under the age of 10, a woman and two men. They were not immediately identified.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident, Kenitzer said.

Original article can be found here ➤

SANTA CLARITA, California --  Four people were killed Sunday when a small, home-built plane crashed near a mountain town in Southern California, authorities said.

The private plane went down late Sunday morning in a remote canyon about 40 miles (73 km) north of downtown Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The aircraft broke apart and debris was strewn throughout dry brush alongside a dirt road near Agua Dulce.

The fire department confirmed four fatalities and said the coroner and Federal Aviation Administration officials responded. The victims were not immediately identified.

The single-engine plane was a Cirrus VK-30 classified as an experimental aircraft, according to FAA records. It's registered to Thomas G. Hastings, who built the plane in 1999, the online registry said. A message left on a phone number listed for Hastings was not immediately returned.  

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer confirmed the aircraft was a Cirrus, but he did not immediately have additional details about the crash about 40 miles (73 km) north of downtown Los Angeles. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, he said.

Arizona air ambulance testing device that could aid in cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Flight Nurse Kyle Vesely, left, demonstrates, as flight paramedic Dean Hoffman, right, watches, how CPR has long been performed on patients within the confines of a medical helicopter on February 6, 2018 in Flagstaff, Ariz. Guardian Air is testing out a new automated chest compression device that requires only the push of a button to activate CPR.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A device that can stand in for human hands and provide CPR compressions could change how a northern Arizona air ambulance gives life-saving care.

Guardian Air, which maintains medical helicopters at seven bases throughout the state's high country, recently started testing an automated compression device out of its Winslow station, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

The device has a band that wraps around a patient's chest and can contract at a pre-programmed rate and pressure. Some studies show it can be more effective than humans at providing chest compressions in a moving vehicle such as an ambulance or helicopter, according to the company.

Medics like Dean Hoffman say the helicopter's main cabin, which measures about 85 cubic feet (2.4 cubic meters), is often too cramped to properly give CPR if someone, on the rare occasion, goes into cardiac arrest.

"You're trying as hard as you can, and you might not be delivering adequate compressions," he said.

In a study involving test patients two years ago, Guardian Air found medics and nurses were not providing the necessary force or compression rate. Research into improvements led them to the new device.

Guardian Air interim program director Dustin Windle said the device can deliver the constant compressions, freeing up medics for other tasks like thinking about treatment or administering medication. He declined to identify the manufacturer since the decision to buy the device was still up in the air.

Hoffman, the medic, said the device would be even more valuable for transport from rural areas such as the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation. Those areas have smaller, less equipped medical facilities and often have patients who need longer transport to a large hospital.

"In my mind, any critical patient, this would be put on them and if they were to experience a cardiac arrest, all you would have to do is push a button," he said.

The devices would likely be used relatively rarely, Hoffman added.

One compression machine costs about $11,000. If the company's trial period with the machine yields positive results, officials will seek out funding through grants and their own budget to buy seven of them — one for each helicopter.

The devices are already popular with Guardian Medical Transport, Guardian Air's counterpart on the ground. The service has been using the devices for five years when ferrying patients from accident scenes to hospitals, according to paramedic Pete Walka. He believes about 75 cardiac arrest patients have been treated with the device each year.

The automated compression technology has been around for at least the last decade. Greg Friese, the editor-in-chief of an online news site for emergency medical technicians and paramedics called, said it's likely there are emergency medical services in every state using the chest compression devices. He is aware of three prominent manufacturers of the devices.

"In the context of an ambulance or helicopter, I would say yes, they're going to be increasingly common because you can turn over a manual procedure that needs to be done the same way over and over to a machine," Friese said.

Story and photo ➤

GoAir cancels two flights as Airbus A320neo planes develop snag: A Mumbai-Delhi and a Mumbai-Bhubaneshwar flight were cancelled

Two GoAir Airbus A320neo planes were grounded in Mumbai on Sunday due to technical snag resulting in cancellations of two of its flights. 

An airline spokesperson confirmed the development and said that the grounding was unrelated to the airworthiness directive issued by European Air Safety Agency. 

"The aircraft have been grounded for technical reasons," the spokesperson said.

A Mumbai-Delhi and a Mumbai-Bhubaneshwar flight were cancelled. GoAir has a fleet of 32 Airbus A320 planes, including 13 Pratt & Whitney engine powered A320neo. 

IndiGo has been forced to ground three of its planes following a directive from EASA which said some of the engines were connected to in-flight shutdowns and rejected take-offs. 

GoAir has not seen any grounding as a result of EASA directive. 

"GoAir new Airbus A320neo deliveries have been postponed as a result of the earlier reported engine challenges. GoAir continues to work closely with both Airbus and Pratt and Whitney in order to continue deliveries as soon as the challenges have been solved," the airline said on Saturday.

Original article ➤

Saratow Airlines, Antonov AN-148-100, RA-61704, Flight 6W-703: Fatal accident occurred February 11, 2018 near Argunovo, Russia

Black box data recovered from the ill-fated airliner that crashed outside Moscow last week suggests that the plane’s pilots had received different speed measurements preceding the crash, leading to chaos and hampering attempts to stave the tragedy.

Saratov Airlines Flight 703 plummeted in the Moscow region four minutes after departing from Domodedovo Airport on Sunday, claiming 71 lives.

The pilots' "inarticulate cries" can be heard on the flight recorder immediately before the crash, the Kommersant business daily reported on Thursday.

Citing an unnamed source familiar with the black box data, the outlet said that it showed “the pilots didn’t understand why distorted speed readings showed up on the displays,” hampering efforts to bring the critical situation under control.

According to the data, the pilots had failed to turn on the heating of the An-148 aircraft’s pressure measurement equipment before takeoff, despite the procedure being listed on a preflight checklist.

The pilots reportedly got into an argument about the data while trying to solve the problem, increasing the speed and tilting the plane to the ground preceding the crash.

Earlier, Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) said that the pilots had failed to turn on the heating unit for the plane’s pressure measurement equipment, which displayed incorrect speed readings in cold weather.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said Thursday that it would consider the black box data in its criminal investigation of the crash.

The pilots of the stricken AN-148 plane which crashed killing all 71 on board reported technical problems moments before takeoff. Here are some of the key exchanges:

Crew: 'To the right 1200, pressure 998.'

Control Tower: '703, the Domodedovo-circle. Good afternoon. Take the flight level 60'

Crew: 'We choose the flight level 60, the parameter of systems 03.'

Crew: 'In a couple of minutes. We contact the technical team, we have problems. Literally in a minute we'll tell you, whether we taxi to the stand, or we taxi out.'

Control Tower: '551, Domodedovo-circle, hello. Left positions are given, the course 'Delta Kilo for the interval, initially take 800 metres, ahead in passing and above.'

Crew: 'To the left on Delta-Kilo we take 800 metres.'

Control Tower: 'To the right on Delta-Kilo, take 800. Did you understand correctly ... 551?'

Crew: 'With the right turn to the Delta-Kilo, take 800 metres. We are taking the flight level 130, 134, .... Thank you, bye.'

Read more:

Speed sensors that were iced over may have caused a passenger jet to crash near Moscow, killing all 71 people on board, investigators say.

The faulty instruments could have given the pilots wrong speed data, Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee said.

The Saratov Airlines jet went down minutes after take-off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Sunday.

More than 1,400 body parts and hundreds of plane fragments have been recovered from the crash site.

What are the investigators saying?

A preliminary analysis of the on-board flight recorder indicated the plane had problems two-and-a-half minutes after it took off, at an altitude of around 1,300m (4,265ft).

The instruments began displaying different speed readings, probably because of iced speed sensors while their heating systems were shut off, the committee said.

When the crew detected the issue, they switched off the plane's autopilot. They eventually took the plane into a dive at 30-35 degrees.

Russian media reports said the plane's captain had rejected a de-icing treatment on the plane before takeoff. The procedure is optional and the crew's decision is based mainly on the weather conditions.

Iced-over speed sensors, known as Pitots, were cited as the likely reason for a 2009 Air France plane crash, which killed 228 people.

What about the search operation?

More than 700 people are involved in the search operation, struggling through deep snow.

The emergencies ministry is collecting DNA samples from victims' relatives as part of the identification process of the 65 passengers, including a child and two teenagers, and six crew.

Pilot error as well as malfunctioning sensors likely caused a passenger jet to crash in Russia, killing all 71 people on board, investigators say.

After studying An-148's flight data recorder, the Interstate Aviation Committee said that Sunday's crash near Moscow occurred after the pilots saw varying data on the plane's two air speed indicators.

The flawed readings came because the pilots failed to turn on a heating unit before the takeoff, the committee said.

The plane's captain reportedly didn't want to defrost the aircraft before flying. The procedure is optional and the crew's decision is based mainly on the weather conditions.

The committee said it is continuing to study the data, but noted that "erroneous data on the pilots' speed indicators may have been a factor that triggered the special flight situation.''

It said the flawed speed data resulted from the “icing of pressure measurement instruments that had their heating systems turned off.”

The Saratov Airlines Antonov An-148 took off Sunday from Moscow's Domodedovo airport for a flight to the city of Orsk and went down in a field about 40 miles southeast of the capital.

First Officer Sergey Gambaryan

Captain Valery Gubanov 

The pilots of the Antonov AN-148-100 may have maneuvered their stricken plane away from villages as they desperately sought to make an emergency landing, experts believe.

Investigators remain puzzled as to the cause of the Saratov Airlines crash in which all 71 people on board perished, but one theory is that ice in the engine caused an explosion which downed the Antonov. 

The Russian authorities overnight formally announced there were no survivors as details of those killed were revealed. 

Among the dead was Daria Tolmasova, the girlfriend of ice hockey star Sergey Ilyin, it was revealed today.

The bodies of the victims are “torn to pieces beyond recognition”, with body parts visible in the snow in images too graphic to publish.

Most of the debris from the plane, en route from Moscow to Orsk near the Kazakhstan border, is in small pieces.

Identifying the dead will require DNA matching from relatives.

The plane ascended normally to 5,900 ft from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport before “suddenly” descending to 4,900ft.

Then it climbed again to 5,900 ft before immediately rapidly descending. 

Some experts believe “the pilots had time to deliberately steer the plane towards a large field so that it didn't hurt people who live in the area, where there are a number of villages”.

Yet there was no mayday or alert from chief pilot Valery Gubanov that the plane was in trouble. 

Witnesses near the crash site suggest there was an explosion in the air possibly in one engine and that the Russian-made Antonov began to break up in the air, but there is speculation this may have been caused not by a bomb but by a de-icing problem in one engine.

At least part of the plane crashed into the ground leaving a crater more than 8ft deep and 60ft in diameter, where investigators have found body parts and pieces of the aircraft. 

Nearby the plane beheaded a small wood of tall trees as it came down, leaving stunted trunks around 10ft high.

So far the investigators see no evidence of terrorism amid the carnage on ground, but they are only now starting to examine the first of two black boxes. The second has yet to be found. 

Alfred Malinovsky, vice president of the Russian pilots trade union told Interfax: “The crash of the An-148 may have been caused by the collapse of the anti-icing system of the engine. 

“Usually, crashes come as a result of multiple factors, several minor issues, each of them can be fatal. 

“This time it is more likely to have been an explosion but it is not necessarily a criminal act. 

“Icing is very likely [the cause].

“The air temperature is slightly below zero, humidity was high. 

“If the anti-icing system collapses, some part of ice may get into the engine and it may result in an explosion. 

“A huge hole on the ground means that the plane fell vertically. The crew did not have time to report the disaster. Some event came all of a sudden and was very quick.”

The authorities say the preparations for the flight were normal but Meduza news outlet reported that the captain had not called for deicing of the plane before takeoff.

However airport officials said anti-icing liquids was applied “as it is a routine procedure”.

A source told Tass: “The latest information is that the plane broke up from crashing into land, not in the air as earlier versions suggested.

“The type of damage on land, a funnel-shaped trace left by the plane indicates a possible strong impact from the plane hitting the ground. 

“The way the plane broke into pieces also confirms it happened not in the air, but from hitting the ground.”

Veteran civilian and Russian air force pilot Vitaly Sokolovsky told that terrorism should not be excluded.

“Of course modern security systems in airports these days do not allow any stranger to get in, particularly with a bomb. 

“But so far no single cause should be excluded. 

“Moreover, there is information that the crew failed to report the emergency situation on board and did not request emergency landing. 

“It means something extraordinary took place on board, an incident that made pilots fight for lives of passengers.”

Among the dead was 22 years old Daria Tolmasova, from Novosibirsk, the fiancée of Sergey Ilyin, defender with Admiral ice hockey club in Vladivostok. 

His agent Shumi Babayev spoke of the player’s “terrible grief”.

“She was only 22 years old. We express our most heartfelt condolences to our friend and his family. Stay strong Sergei.”

Another victim Tatiana Sinitsyna was travelling to Orsk via Moscow from Turkey where her daughter and little granddaughter lived.

Flight attendant Anastasia Slavinskaya, 29, was married with a small son.

Chief energy engineer Vladimir Normantovich and his son Alexander died in the crash. Vladimir was 60, his son 36. 

Mother and daughter Okana and Nadezhda Krasova, 29 and five, perished in the tragedy.

Swiss national Ulriсh Klauein was travelling to Orsk to install a new piece of machinery at Orsk Oil and Gas Synthesis factory. 

Alexey Besedin, the chief of 127 Fire and Rescue brigade, was first to arrive at the scene.

“It was very hard to get to the site which is in a snow covered open field,” he said. 

“There were no paths, only later did heavy machinery blaze roads to the site 

“Fire engines couldn’t get through, we all had to walk in waist-high thick snow for about 600, 700 metres. The wind was very strong, visibility was bad because of wet snow. 

“When we finally broke through the snow, we rushed to look for survivors. We found small bits of fuselage thrown in a radius of about a kilometre.”

In the crater “we found fragments of bodies and pieces of the plane.

“This was the hardest plane crash I ever came across.”

The clean-up operation at the site will take one week, said officials. 

A criminal probe has been launched into the crash. 

Witness Alexey said: "I heard a noise... like a roar.”

This was the largest plane crash in Russia since December 2016 when 92 people died after TU-154 crashed in Sochi. 

“It was quite unusual. You know, it sounds very strange when no one is around, when you hear such an unusual roar... 

“I put on my shoes and rushed outside. And I saw … an explosion. 

“So big, there was such a cloud. Mushroom-shaped, like a nuclear explosion in miniature. 

“The fragments were flying, burning. One of them was flew right onto me.”

Fragments of the plane will be delivered to Moscow and re-assembled at Gromov military airport in Zhukovsky, Moscow.

“We are aiming to start aerial shooting of the area. We’ll map the crash site, documenting all fragments of the plane, and then re-assemble them in Zhukovsky,” an official said.

Mr Gubanov was an experienced pilot especially on the An-148.

“He had a record of over 5,000 flight hours, including 2,147 hours of piloting An-148 aircraft,” said a spokesman for Saratov Airlines.

“Second pilot Sergey Arsenovich Gambaryan had a record of 812 flight hours piloting this type of aircraft.”

Radio contact was lost four minutes after takeoff. 

The doomed plane had made “several flights” in the 24 hours before the crash, all without problems. 

There were no “technical deviations” before the Orsk flight, said the airline.

There were 65 passengers and six crew on board.

Russian investigators today found the second black box as they seek to understand the cause of the air tragedy. 

The identification of victims is due to start today - but may take three months because of the extensive damage to bodies.

Moscow (CNN)Emergency workers have found around 200 body parts strewn across a snowy field near Moscow at the site of a Russian plane crash that killed all 71 people onboard.

The body parts found among and around the wreckage of the Saratov Airlines plane will be removed by Monday evening as a team of 600 continue to comb the area with the help of search aircraft, a Russian emergency ministry spokesman said.

An Investigative Committee of Russia spokeswoman said earlier that the body parts and plane fragments had spread over an expansive area.

"The scatter of fragments of the aircraft and bodies of dead passengers occupies a large territory; the radius is not less than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles)," said the spokeswoman, Svetlana Petrenko.

The flight disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from Domodedovo Airport in the greater Moscow region Sunday and crashed southeast of the airport in Ramenskoye District. 

Officials said both of the plane's flight recorders had been recovered but have not given any details of what they have revealed or what the cause of the crash may be.

The Antonov An-148 was bound for the Russian city of Orsk near the border with Kazakhstan. There were 65 passengers and six crew onboard, included three children, aged 5, 13 and 17, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave "deep condolences to all those who lost relatives and friends in this disaster," his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state media.

Officials launch investigation

Officials have launched a criminal investigation into the crash and all possible causes are being explored, said the Investigative Committee's Petrenko.

Authorities have started questioning Saratov Airlines employees and the Domodedovo Airport workers who prepared the plane for flight.

The crew did not report any problems before the plane crashed, according to RIA. 

The cockpit voice recorder was found Monday in "satisfactory condition," an emergency representative said. The other "black box" -- the flight data recorder registering details such as speed and altitude -- was recovered on Sunday.

The An-148 is a Ukrainian-designed regional jet that was first introduced in 2009. Russian state airline GTK Rossiya, the first carrier to operate the An-148, was sharply critical in 2010 of the model's reliability early on in its service, citing problems with major components like engines and electrical systems, according to Flightglobal.

The jet that crashed Sunday was part of the batch of planes that GTK Rossiya had complained about several years ago, according to the 2010 Flightglobal report. There is no indication yet, however, whether the crash was caused by a technical error, human error or a combination of the two. 

Hundreds of Russian investigators are searching snow-covered fields near Moscow, where a passenger jet crashed killing all 71 people on board.

The 65 passengers and six crew died when the Saratov Airlines jet went down minutes after take-off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Sunday.

Bad weather, human error or technical failure are seen as possible causes.

Officials do not see terrorism as a likely cause.

According to Russia's Investigative Committee, "when the plane crashed it was intact, there was no fire, and the explosion happened on impact".

Earlier some eyewitnesses had reported seeing the jet ablaze as it plummeted.

This is the first commercial passenger jet crash for more than a year.

The Antonov An-148 was en route to Orsk in the Ural mountains.

It crashed near the village of Argunovo, about 80km (50 miles) south-east of Moscow. Wreckage and body parts are strewn over a large area - about 30 hectares (74 acres).

More than 700 people are involved in the search operation, struggling through deep snow, but aided by snowmobiles and nine drones. 

Who are the victims?

Russia's health minister said recovery of all of the victims' remains could take up to a week. So far more than 200 body fragments have been recovered.

The emergencies ministry is collecting DNA samples from victims' relatives - specialists have flown to Orsk to do that.

The official list of passengers and crew has been published (in Russian) by the ministry.

A child and two teenagers were among the passengers, most of whom were from the Orenburg region where Orsk is located.

The list is still being updated. Among those killed was a man from Switzerland and another from Azerbaijan.

At least 11 passengers were living in or near Moscow. Three were from the St Petersburg area.

At least eight passengers were from other parts of Russia, and four of the crew were from Saratov.

Details of some of the victims have emerged. They include Darya Tolmasova, 22, who was the girlfriend of an ice hockey player - Sergei Ilyin, of the Admiral team. Tributes to her were posted on Instagram.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the victims' families. Both the US and the UK governments said they were "deeply saddened" by the tragedy.

This is the first commercial passenger jet crash for more than a year - 2017 was the safest year on record for air travel.

What do we know so far about what happened?

The plane took off at 14:27 (11:27 GMT) on Sunday. Contact was lost minutes later.

Flight-tracking site Flightradar24 said it then descended at the rate of 1,000m (3,300ft) per minute.

No emergency call came from the plane, which was reportedly seven years old.

The jet was being flown by an experienced pilot who had 5,000 hours of flight time, the airline told Ria-Novosti news agency.

A criminal inquiry has been launched for "violation of the rules for the operation of air transport".

On Monday, emergency workers confirmed they had recovered the jet's second flight recorder.

What do we know about Saratov Airlines?

In 2015 the regional airline was banned from operating international flights, after inspectors found someone other than the flight crew in a cockpit.

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

Antonov aircraft were first developed in Ukraine, but are also made in Russia. The twin-engine model involved in Sunday's crash had its first flight in 2004.

In 2011, one broke up mid-flight during a training flight in the Belgorod region in southern Russia, killing all six crew members on board.
Recent Russian air disasters

The country has suffered two major plane crashes since 2015:

A Tu-154 military airliner crashed into the Black Sea with the loss of all 92 people aboard on 25 December 2016, with the disaster blamed on pilot error

A Russian Airbus A321 carrying tourists crashed in Sinai, Egypt, with the loss of all 224 people aboard on 31 October 2015; the Islamic State group said it had placed a bomb aboard.

Story and video:

MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. Investigators have concluded that the Antonov An-148 aircraft that had crashed outside Moscow on Sunday did not break up in mid-air, but rather the explosion occurred when the plane hit the ground, Investigative Committee Spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said on Monday.

"It has been established that the aircraft was intact at the time of its descent and there was no combustion. The explosion occurred when the plane hit the ground," the spokeswoman said.

"The content the flight recorders will enable experts of the IAC [Interstate Aviation Committee] to reconstruct the flight in detail and determine the cause of the crash," Petrenko explained.

As the spokeswoman said, "during the course of the preliminary investigation, all versions will be looked into, including the work to investigate the airline’s activity, the technical condition of the plane and the pilots’ professional level, as well as facts about the required training underwent."

Investigators are conducting searches and impounding documents at the office of Saratov Airlines, including the documentation on the plane’s maintenance and technical examination, and the crew’s medical checkup, she said.

"The investigators have obtained fuel samples, the files of radio exchanges between flight controllers and the plane’s commander, the files of the system tracking the airliner on the ground and in the air, along with the radar’s electronic data on the plane’s flight," the Investigative Committee spokeswoman said.

The probe involves over a hundred employees from the Investigative Committee who are working in several Russian regions, Petrenko said.

Both flight recorders have been found at the Antonov An-148 crash site in the Moscow region as of now, a source in the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) also confirmed to TASS.

"Both the parameter and voice recorders have been located," the source stressed. The flight recorders are severely damaged but decoding is presumably possible, the source confirmed.

"They are both damaged," the source said, adding that it was presumably possible to decode them. The recorders will be delivered to the laboratory shortly.

"The flight recorders will be open as soon as they are delivered, so tonight it will be possible to say for sure if they can be decoded," the source noted.

A criminal case is being pursued under Article 263.3 of the Russian Criminal Code (violation of security requirements while using aircraft, resulting in the death of two and more persons through negligence).

On February 11, an Antonov An-148 passenger plane operated by Saratov Airlines (en route from Moscow to Orsk, in the Orenburg Region) that had departed from Domodedovo airport vanished from radars a few minutes after takeoff. Fragments of the plane were found near the village of Stepanovskoye in the Moscow Region’s Ramensky district. There were 65 passengers and six crewmembers onboard the passenger jet. There were no survivors. According to latest updates, rescue workers have found more than 300 fragments from the plane at the crash site.

The moment of the deadly An-148 passenger plane crash in Moscow region, in which 71 people lost their lives on Sunday, was captured by a surveillance camera installed on a private house near the crash site.


The Wall Street Journal
By Thomas Grove
Updated February 11, 2018 2:04 p.m. ET

MOSCOW—A Russian airplane crashed on the outskirts of Moscow on Sunday shortly after takeoff, killing all 71 on board, as Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded an investigation into the disaster.

The Russian-made An-148 had taken off from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport and was flying near the capital when it caught fire and fell from the sky, Russia’s state TV reported witnesses as saying.

The crash of flight 703 killed everyone on board, Russia’s Transport Minister, Maksim Sokolov, told Interfax.

The airplane, which had made international flights, was operated by regional Saratov Airlines and was carrying 65 passengers and six members of the crew on its way to the city of Orsk on the border of Kazakhstan.

“A few minutes (after takeoff) radio communication was lost with the crew of the airplane and sight of the plane disappeared,” Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency said.

Flightradar24, a plane tracking website, said the plane descended rapidly about five minutes into its flight after departing Moscow at 11:22 GMT. The plane was descending at a rate of 22,000 feet a minute when contact was lost.

Other witnesses told Russian media that there was a loud bang before the plane hit the ground. The plane left a crater more than 6 feet deep in the rural surroundings of Ramenskoe region in the southeastern Moscow province, state TV said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is campaigning for a fourth term in power, sent his condolences to those who lost loved ones in the crash, his spokesman told Russian agencies, and ordered a government commission be set up to investigate the disaster. He also canceled plans to travel to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

“Due to the tragic events, the president has decided to…continue work in the capital, considering the possible necessity of coordinating work of the governmental commission,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

State television showed debris from the crash of flight 703 scattered across snowy fields to the southeast of Moscow, where 150 medical service workers and rescue teams were looking for remains of the victims. State and regional authorities, including the governor of Moscow province and the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, also went to the crash site.

Russia’s top carriers have improved their safety record in recent years, but air-safety problems still plague the country’s second- and third-tier airlines. Sunday’s disaster is the worst in Russia since 2016, when a Defense Ministry aircraft full of soldiers, musicians and journalists crashed into the Black Sea after taking off from Sochi on its way to Syria, killing all 92 on board.

The country’s aviation sector was a target for terrorism during the height of an Islamic insurgency following Moscow’s military campaigns in the southern region of Chechnya. In 2004, two planes that departed from Domodedovo were blown up in flights. In 2011, the same airport experienced an attack by a suicide bomber that killed more than 30 people.

Authorities didn’t mention the possibility of terrorism with Sunday’s crash.

Russia has been working to improve safety standards, including maintenance of aircraft, as it hosts the World Cup across more than 10 cities later this year.

Original article can be found here ➤