|The AN-148 passenger plane was en route from Moscow to the Russian provincial city of Orsk |
and was operated by Russia’s Saratov Airlines.
|Example of a Pitot Tube - this one from an Airbus. Most Airbus Pitot tubes have now been replaced with an alternative Thales ice detection system|
Orsk is in the Orenburg region located at the southern tip of the Urals
The aircraft, in addition to passengers and crew was a scheduled mail flight and also carried some air freight. Local authorities have conducted several police raids, and recovered documents relating to the aircrafts engineering service and operational records.
As is customary within Russia, a full criminal inquiry / investigation has already been started although it would initially concentrate on weather conditions, human error and technical factors. No mention of terrorism, but clearly nothing will be ruled out by the teams of investigators.
One of the cockpit data recorders has already been recovered. Much of the debris field which extends for a radius of 20 miles is already covered with a deep carpet of snow, not helped by blizzard conditions in the crash site area.
Convoys of heavy all wheel drive specialist rescue vehicles and equipment have been mobilised, and seen on roads leading to the crash site. The site is closed to media organisations, so current information cannot be fully verified.
The Saratov airline faced sanctions, temporarily banned from operating international flights, some two years ago, for safety violations, following a snap inspection by the Russian Federation Aviation Regulatory Authority - Rosaviatsia. Inspectors found 'an airline employee' who was not a flight crew or cabin crew member was present in the cockpit during a flight, contrary to regulations.
It later transpired the 'employee' was a 'close relative' of the airlines general manager. The airline disputes some of the findings and claims that policy changes will ensure 'a repeat of events' will never happen again.
Note: All early incident reports are speculative and must at this stage be treated with caution.
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