Russia tries to decipher crash plane pilots' final conversations

The Flydubai plane crashed at an airport in southern Russia, killing all 62 people onboard


Reuters March 21, 2016
Emergencies Ministry members work at the crash site of a Boeing 737-800 Flight FZ981 operated by Dubai-based budget carrier Flydubai, at the airport of Rostov-On-Don, Russia, March 20, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW: Russian investigators on Monday were trying to restore the damaged cockpit voice recorder of a passenger jet which crashed at the weekend killing all 62 people onboard, in an effort to understand why it had tried to land in strong winds.

The Boeing 737-800, operated by Dubai-based budget carrier Flydubai, crashed in the early hours of Saturday at Rostov-on-Don airport in southern Russia in strong, gusting winds on its second attempt to land.

Flight recorders badly damaged in Russia plane crash

The stricken plane's flight data recorder survived largely intact, but the cockpit voice recorder - which should shed crucial light on the pilots' final conversations before the crash - was badly damaged and needs to be restored.

That process could take weeks, officials have said.

There is so far no suggestion of terrorism.

Russian media say the two main theories under consideration by investigators, who have opened a criminal investigation into the tragedy, are possible pilot error or a technical failure.

Flydubai's CEO Ghaith al-Ghaith said on Saturday it was too early to determine why the plane, which was just over five years old, crashed.

62 dead as FlyDubai passenger jet crashes in southern Russia

One of the big unanswered questions is why the plane attempted to land in what were reported to be fiercely strong winds and did not divert to a nearby airport. An Aeroflot plane had earlier made several aborted landing attempts and been diverted.

Investigators are likely to focus, among other issues, on how the decision to land was reached, why the plane circled above the airport in a holding pattern for over two hours, and on the precise thinking of the pilots and the airport's landing tower.

Russian PM orders review of aviation rules

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday ordered his government to analyse the reasons behind the crash, and if necessary to amend Russian regulations on flight safety, RIA news agency reported.

"If there are some technological issues, then they should be analysed and, at the conclusion of that analysis, proposals should be made to the government so that some amendments can be made to technical equipment, if that's needed, or to the rules that exist in the sphere of aviation in our country," the agency quoted Medvedev as saying.

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