Source: Tu-154 was trying to make a right turn seconds before the disaster

Russian soldiers board a vessel to search the coastline of Sochi for debris from the Tu-154 Russian Tu-154 plane that crashed near Sochi.

Russian soldiers board a vessel to search the coastline of Sochi for debris from the Tu-154 Russian Tu-154 plane that crashed near Sochi.

EPA / Vostock-Photo
The plane was flying at a speed of about 510 kilometers per hour

The Russian Defense Ministry’s Tu-154 plane that crashed into the Black Sea on Dec. 25 was trying to make a right turn seconds before the disaster. It was flying at a speed of 500 kilometers per hour with its nose high up, a source in the law enforcement has told TASS.

"The crash occurred while the pilots were retracting spoilers (when extracted the spoilers increase the plane’s airlift - TASS). For yet to be established reasons the plane’s pitch angle was too great. Apparently the plane deviated from its designated path while making a right turn. As a result it flew into the water at a speed of about 510 kilometers per hour," the source said.

A source close to the investigation has told TASS the plane’s pitch angle was too great and it was being rocked from side to side.

Sources do not rule out that the disaster may have been due to a combination of several factors, including the crew’s error and problems with one of the engines.

The pitch angle is the angle between the plane’s longitudinal axis and the horizontal plane. If the angle is too large, the plane’s nose is too high and the plane may lose the airlift.

The Tupolev Tu-154 crashed on Dec. 25 shortly after takeoff from Adler Airport. It had 92 people on board. They were on the way to Syria with New Year greetings for the Russian aerospace group at Hmeymim. One of the plane’s flight recorders has been recovered from the seabed and delivered to Moscow for retrieving data. 

Read more: Decoding of Tu-154 plane’s black boxes may take up to several weeks

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