MOSCOW, September 18 (Itar-Tass) — The Yakovlev Yak-42 plane that crashed near Yaroslavl with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team failed to gather the necessary speed and went beyond the runway, according to the results of an expert examination by the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) published on its website.
“The actual lift-off of the plane took place at a distance of 400 metres after the exit end of the runway. After the plane’s lift-off it hit the antenna system of the on-course beacon, and also there was a rapid growth of the pitch attitude to 20 degrees in 2-3 seconds. The maximum climb of the aircraft was 5-6 metres. After that the plan had an intensive rolling to the left side and collided with obstacles and the ground,” the report says.
IAC experts found that “in spite of the engines’ full-thrust regime, the speed growth rate slowed significantly, which may be explained by the appearance of an additional braking force.” The maximum speed reached by the plane before takeoff was about 230 kilometres per hours, IAC said.
The committee also stated that “the official information about the investigation is published only on the IAC website.” “References to any other sources, the publication of unofficial materials and ‘distribution’ of various versions of the causes of the accident run counter to the moral and ethical standards, international and Russian rules of air accident investigation,” the report says.
The Yak-42D plane of the Yak-Service airline crashed outside Yaroslavl on September 7. It carried the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team that was heading for Minsk. A total of 44 people were killed in the catastrophe. After the tragedy the Federal Service for the Oversight of Transport (Rostransnadzor) announced inspections of all aircraft of this type operated by Russian airlines.
One of the two survivors, Alexander Galimov, died five days later in hospital. The crash is under investigation.
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, which was a member of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Russia’s top league, was on its way to Minsk, Belarus, in order to start the 2011–12 season. All players from the main roster plus four from the team’s youth team were on board at the aircraft. Due to the tragedy, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl chose to cancel their participation in the 2011–12 KHL season. The club will instead participate in the 2011–12 season of the Russian Major League (VHL), the second-ranked ice hockey league in Russia after the KHL, starting in December 2011, and will automatically be qualified for the VHL playoffs. The KHL suspended its season-opening game already in progress and postponed the start of the season by one week.
The flight recorders were recovered on 8 September 2011, according to Russian Minister of Transport Igor Levitin, and sent to Moscow for examination. The fuel supply used for the plane was seized, and samples taken for analysis to determine if substandard fuel was used. The Investigative Committee commented that pilot error and mechanical malfunction were considered the two most likely causes for the crash. One question to be investigated is why the pilots continued to attempt the take-off, rather than use emergency braking. The pilots were experienced. Captain Andrei Solontsev had 6,900 hours of flight experience, 1,500 on Yak-42s, and first officer Sergei Zhuravlyov 15,000 hours, although only 420 on the Yak-42, according to Okulov.
Conflicting opinions were given on the ability of the Yak-42 to take off with less than three engines operating. According to a report quoting the Federal Air Transport Agency, the plane can land and fly on two engines, but cannot take-off if one engine shuts off. According to Shavkat Umarov, head of the Tatar branch of Rosaviatsiya in Kazan, the Yak-42 can take-off using two engines.
According to the Technical Commission of the IAC, preliminary analysis of the flight recorders indicated that the plane's stabilizer was set to 8.7 degrees “nose up” and its wing flaps were in the take-off position of 20 degrees. The engines were functioning until “collision with obstacles.” According to Russia’s aviation authority, the flight recorders gave no indication of sub-standard fuel. An analysis of the fuel in the fuel tanks at Tunoshna Airport showed that it met requirements for aviation fuel. After the crash, the airport ordered that planes use fuel from elsewhere during the investigation.
The Technical Commission of the IAC released further information on 12 September 2011. Among the findings: the engines continued working until the crash, the weather was ruled out as a cause of the crash, the crew carried out a check of all controls of the aircraft, including the elevator, the helm in normal mode, take-off weight was less than the maximum allowable for take-off, the plane had 14 tonnes of fuel on board, of which 8 tonnes was from the airport in Yaroslavl, before take-off, the stabilizer and flaps were set to take-off position.
The committee has referred the study of the recorders and plane operation to other research centres. The Technical Commission has established contacts with the investigation authorities of the countries whose citizens were on-board: the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Sweden, Latvia and Canada.