Update: Russian Tupelov 154 Crash

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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov had said human error had caused the crash in July of an airliner in Siberia in which all 144 people on board died.

Few papers believed him, and the Moscow magazine Ogonek has published documents that suggest the pilots had unwittingly endangered the plane because they feared a wage cut if they used up too much fuel.

A report by crash investigators suggests that the pilots of the Tupolev 154, owned by the small firm Vladivostok-Avia, lost control of the plane by taking it into too steep a descent into Irkutsk airport in Siberia.

Difficult approach

The approach to the airport is notoriously difficult, and it appears from the report that the pilots decided not to take the usual course of a second circuit to reduce altitude as they entered radar surveillance on 4 July.

Instead they took the plane in at a sharp but not unfeasible angle, which seems to have caused the autopilot to pull the nose up in response to the pilots' attempts to reduce speed.

This in turn stalled the plane at 800 metres - too low for the pilots to pull it out of its fatal plunge to the ground.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), August 14, 2001


I can why it crashed, the pilot and autopilot are both trying to fly the plane.

-- David Williams (DAVIDWILL@prodigy.net), August 14, 2001.

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