MOSCOW, November 2 (Itar-Tass) — The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) will announce, at a special news conference on Wednesday, the results of the probe into the crash of the Yak-42 aircraft near Yaroslavl on September 7, in which Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, one of Russia's best hockey teams, died.
The team was on its way to a game in Minsk. There were 45 persons on board the plane. Of those, 44 died: crewmembers, the hockey players, their coaches and hockey club personnel. Plane engineer Alexander Sizov was the only survivor. Earlier, a IAC official said a technical commission has at its disposal "all the necessary materials, including the results of the expert examinations conducted by a research institutes and centers, flight and technical experts with the view of ascertaining the system or direct causes and all the contributing factors and circumstances of the accident, and working out a set of necessary flight safety measures." IAC underlined that the tests had not detected faults in the operation of the plane's braking system. "Special tests have been run on wheel hubs, brakes and braking system assemblies, as well as on the technical condition of aircraft tyres, but no faults in their operation have been detected," it said. Initially, experts focused on two versions of the air accident: technical failure or human factor (piloting error). The Transport Ministry and the IAC urged reporters to wait till the end of the probe and not to make hasty conclusions about the cause of the crash. Earlier this week however, "the Kommersant" published an article which said crew commander Andrei Solomentsev would be blamed for piloting error. "The probe ascertained that he had involuntarily slowed down the plane by putting his feet on the pedals, and when he began to pull up the control wheel trying to take off, he pressed his feet with all his might on the pedals," the newspaper wrote. Alexander Sizov, the only survivor, told about the last moments of the flight in a televised interview. According to Sizov, the plane was in ideal condition before the flight and that pre-flight preparations had been standard. "During the acceleration, it was clear that something was wrong. Some time later, the passengers became worried over the plane not taking off. After some moments I understood that we were off the runway, rolling along the ground. We took off from the ground and I realized that the plane was listing and that we would crash," the engineer recalled. However, he was unsure whether or not the brake pedal was pressed during acceleration. "I would have felt it if braking was sharp, but if the brake was pressed smoothly, I wouldn't," Sizov explained.
It is known that the quality of the fuel in the plane's tanks conformed to the requirements and that the pilots were sober. IAC experts found out that the Yak-42 had been unable to gain the necessary speed before take-off and rolled outside of the runway. It took off after running 400 meters on the ground and collided with a radio beacon antenna. Then the plane dipped to the left and fell from a height of five to six meters. On September 26, the Rosaviatsiya Federal Air Transport agency annulled the licenses of the Yak Service company, the owner of the crashed plane.