The Worst Aviation Disasters In Russian Sports History Reveals Pilot Error


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The Worst Aviation Disasters In Russian Sports History Reveals Pilot Error

By Mike Mitchell

November 2, 2011 - On September 7, 2011, Yak Service Airlines operating a Yakovlev Yak-42 jet aircraft departed Tunoshna airport, Russia for Minsk International Airport in Russia at 4:05 PM Moscow Time with 45 onboard which included Russian’s professional ice hockey team, Hockey Club Lokomotiv.

Just after takeoff, the Yakovlev Yak-42 a 100 seat three-engine mid-range passenger jet crashed near Yaroslavl. Witness reported the aircraft was not at its proper rotation speed for a takeoff and pilot lifted the aircraft off at the end of the runway.

Yakovlev Yak-42 jet failed to gain altitude, struck a tower mast, caught fire and crashed. The aircraft was transporting Russia’s professional ice hockey team to a Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) game in Minsk. All onboard were killed except the flight engineer Alexander Sizov who survived the crash.

The crash killed all of the team's roster (plus four players from the Loko MHL junior squad) and coaching staff except for two who were not on the flight, forward Maxim Zyuzyakin and goaltending coach Jorma Valtonen. The tragedy forced Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to cancel their participation in the 2011–12 KHL season.

Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee’s (IAC) Air Accident Investigation Commission investigated the crash and determined the crash was not doe to mechanical problems but pilot error.

It determined that the pilot had inadvertently applied foot pedal breaking while in takeoff mode on the runway and in a desperate attempt to take-off applied to much back pressure on the yoke to take-off. The commission further stated the pilot had enough time to abort the flight, both pilots had not been properly trained and the co-pilot had drugs in his system. 

Alexei Morozov, who led the investigation, stated Yak-Service Aairline lacked a proper system of flight oversight and controls over air safety. Yak-Service Aairlines was based in Moscow, Russia. It operated executive passenger charters. It was established in 1993. The airline was banned from operating with the EU from July 2009 to November 2009. On September 21, 2011, the airline had it's license revoked in the wake of the crash.


Morozov further stated the pilots had trained on a different aircraft that had a slightly different cockpit layout and breaking system. On the Yakovlev Yak-42 the rudder pedals are used for searing the aircraft and as well for breaking. By pressing the tops of the pedal causes breaking. However, the plane they were trained on the breaking was done by pressing the bottom of the pedal.  

As the aircraft traveled down the runway the pilots were pressing the tops of the ruder pedals which were breaking the aircraft eight wheals not allowing the aircraft to reach the proper takeoff speed. The pilots should have rested their feet on the floor instead they rested on top of the rudder pedals.

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