Russian Investigative Committee ends inquiry into ice hockey plane crash

The crew of the Yakovlev Yak-42 plane, which crashed in September 2011 with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team onboard, was cleared for the flight with flagrant violations, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax, adding that the criminal inquiry was now over.

The crew of the Yakovlev Yak-42 plane, which crashed in September 2011 with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team onboard, was cleared for the flight with flagrant violations, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax, adding that the criminal inquiry was now over.

"In addition to violations in the crew's performance during departure from the Tunoshna airport in the Yaroslavl region, it was discovered that the crew was cleared for the flight by the Yak Service airline, the plane's operator, with flagrant violations of flight safety regulations," Markin said.

He noted that the Main Investigative Department of the Russian Investigative Committee had finalized the investigation of the Yak-42 crash, which killed 44 people, including the Lokomotiv ice hockey team players.

Former Yak Service Deputy General Director for Flight Operations Vadim Timofeyev is a defendant accused of "violating regulations for flight safety and aircraft operation."

"In the opinion of the detectives, Timofeyev was compelled to meet flight safety and aircraft operation regulations and supervised aircraft operations and proficiency, professional development, coaching and qualification tests of pilots due to the nature of his occupation and position," Markin said.

Timofeyev had the right to clear crews for flights and to deny them clearance on the grounds of insufficient skills. Having studied all circumstances and facts preceding the tragedy, the detectives discovered that Timofeyev had cleared the crew for the flight illegally and therefore violated flight safety regulations and the crew had no right to fly on its own on the day the crash happened.

"For instance, Timofeyev cleared the captain on the basis of forged documents, and the copilot was still training to fly a Yak-42 and had no right to fly on his own," the Investigative Committee spokesman said.

Timofeyev did not control professional training of pilots, regularly recalled them from training courses and illegally cleared them for flights before their training was over. Therefore, he definitely knew that the crew had not finished their training and did not possess every skill necessary for safe flight.

The investigation also uncovered that Timofeyev did not analyze data from flight recorders, which registered the mistakes made by the deceased captain in his previous flights.

"Apparently, he made many mistakes and some of them could create a real threat to flight safety. Timofeyev did nothing but knowingly continued to clear the same captain for flights. What is more, the crew was formed in such a way that the two pilots and the flight engineer were only on their third flight together," Markin stated.

The crew never practiced together in a trainer imitating an emergency situation, which happened during the Yak-42 flight.

The detectives are confident that a proper approach to the crew training could have helped avoid the tragedy that claimed 44 lives. Test results confirmed that the plane was in good order.

"The detectives have collected enough evidence and the case was presented for approval of the bill of indictment and transfer to a court for the consideration of its merits," Markin said.

The Investigative Committee continues to scrutinize other causes of this tragedy.

"As it is known, pilot training matters played a role in the 2013 air crash in Kazan, so detectives involved in a number of criminal inquiries continue to uncover the illegal issue of training center certificates, which enabled pilots to extend their licenses in the future," the Investigative Committee spokesman said.

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