KHL plane crash investigation puts blame on pilot error

The Russian plane crash that killed 44 people including the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team could have been avoided, according to the findings of an investigation of the crash.

The Interstate Aviation Committee said the Sept. 7 crash was caused by a pilot inadvertently applying the wheel brakes during takeoff and then pulling up on the control wheel too sharply in order to get the plane off the ground.

Only a single crew member from the Yak-42 survived when the plane crashed on the banks of the Volga River. All 36 members of the KHL’s Lokomotiv team died in one of the worst aviation sports disasters ever.

The pilot should have aborted takeoff when he realized the plane was not lifting off the runway as it should have been, but Alexei Morozov, who led the investigation, said pressure from aviation industry employers might have led the pilot to continue his takeoff attempts.

“Many pilots say that those who cause delays in flight schedules... run into various problems at many carriers,” Morozov said during a news conference. “Company management doesn’t like it.”

Ruben Yesayan, a trained pilot who took part in the investigation, also questioned the training of the plane’s pilots.

“A properly trained pilot would have immediately aborted the takeoff when he saw the nose failing to lift,” Yesayan said. “The plane would simply have rolled passed the runway and everyone would have been safe.”

Morozov went on to blame Yak-Service, which owned the plane, for neglecting to adequately train its crew and observe safety standards.

“The company practically lacked a proper system of flight oversight and controls over safety,” he said.

The disaster has firmly affixed a national microscope on Russian airline carriers, pilot and crew training and broader government oversight.

More KHL plane crash coverage from The Washington Post:

Russian jet carrying top hockey team crashes, killing 43 people

Early Lead: Lone KHL crash player survivor, Alexander Galimov, dies

Early Lead: Russian jet carrying Lokomotiv hockey team crashes; at least 43 dead

Capitals Insider: KHL will rebuild Lokomotiv team

Photo gallery: Scenes from the aftermath of the crash

Early Lead: NHL players react to news of Lokomotiv player deaths

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