ST. PETERSBURG, December 25. /TASS/. A decision on taking out of service the Tu-154 planes would be premature, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said after the plane crash in the Black Sea on Sunday.
"There are many aircraft in the world which are no more manufactured but are in operation. The expected life of this aircraft is 40 years today and if we speak about foreign counterparts, some planes have life up to 60 years," Manturov told reporters in St. Petersburg.
"That’s why this decision would be early," he added.
Speaking on if there is the need to suspend the flights of planes of this model, the minister said this is up to the operator to take the decision. He said before taking any steps at first the investigation into the tragedy needs to be completed and the causes should be established.
The Tu-154 plane from Russia’s Ministry of Defense vanished from radar screens at 05.40 a.m. Moscow time (02.40 a.m. GMT) shortly after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
According to the latest information from Russia's Defense Ministry, there were 92 people on board the aircraft, consisting of 8 crew members and 84 passengers. Among them was the Executive Director of the Spravedlivaya Pomoshch (Fair Aid) charity fund, Elizaveta Glinka, also better known to the Russian public as Dr. Liza, as well as servicemen and reporters, including from Channel One, Zvezda and NTV.
The plane was also carrying more than 60 members of the famous Alexandrov ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian armed forces, who set off to celebrate the New Year with the air group of Russia’s Aerospace Forces at the Hmeymim air base in Syria. The choir’s conductor Valery Khalilov was also on the list of passengers.
The Defense Ministry said that debris from the Tu-154 had been found 1.5 km off the coast of Sochi at the depth of 50-70 meters.