6 Dec 2010 16:11

Russia not planning to suspend Tu-154 flights - agency

MOSCOW. Dec 6 (Interfax) - The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) is not planning to suspend flights by the Tupolev Tu-154 following the latest incidents involving the Soviet-era airliner in the settlement of Izhma and at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, an agency official told reporters.

"Rosaviatsia does not plan to suspend the Tu-154," the official said.

The agency has, though, begun a spot check on Dagestan Airlines, which owned the Tu-154 that crashed at Domodedovo on December 4, killing two and injuring 87 of those on board.

"In accordance with federal regulations, Rosaviatsia has started an unscheduled inspection of flight organization and the maintenance of the flightworthiness of aircraft at the company," the official said.

The Dagestan Airlines plane made an emergency landing at Domodedovo on Saturday afternoon after taking off from another Moscow airport, Vnukovo. There were around 170 people on board the flight to Makhachkala, capital of the southern Russian republic of Dagestan.

The plane skidded off the runway by more than 400 meters and stopped 15-20 meters from the airport's northern perimeter before breaking apart.

It was initially thought that two of the plane's three engines failed shortly after takeoff. The reasons for the accident are yet unknown. There is talk of pilot error, but an aviation source said such presumptions are premature. Press reports also said that fuel lacking anti-freezing additives could have been the cause of the problem.

The other recent incident involving a Tu-154 was an emergency landing close to the village of Izhma in the Komi Republic on September 7. Nobody was hurt in that incident.