Pilot error 'like Kaczynski plane' behind crash: Russia

21st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

A basic pilot error appears to have caused the Russian plane crash that killed 44, a top official said Tuesday, comparing the error to the tragedy that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski.

"I do not want to jump ahead of the investigation but from initial information it is clear that this was a mistake by the pilot in bad weather," Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

"He did not land on the runway, but to the right," Russian news agencies quoted Ivanov, the government's aviation pointman, as saying on the sidelines of the Paris airshow.

He said that the crew had "until the last moment looked for the runway visually but did not see it. And then it happened, what happened."

Controversially, Ivanov said the crash "recalls the recent Polish plane disaster at Smolensk" in western Russia that killed the Polish president and 95 others in April 2010.

Poland has always vehemently rejected the conclusions of the Russian investigation into the crash that inexperienced Polish pilots brought about the tragedy by insisting on landing the Tupolev 154 jet in bad weather.

Russia has yet to give official conclusions on the cause of the crash just before midnight at Petrozavodsk airport in northern Russia where the Tupolev 134 jet landed on a highway in fog and rain instead of the airport runway.

"Unfortunately, this looks like a repeat of the Polish scenario," Ivanov was quoted as saying.

© 2011 AFP

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