Second flight recorder recovered
The Russian Defense Ministry said search teams have recovered another flight recorder from a military plane that crashed in the Black Sea, killing all 92 aboard.
The ministry said the second recorder was lifted from the seabed on Wednesday. The first flight recorder was found the previous day and experts have started analyzing its data to determine the crash’s cause.
The Tu-154 of the Russian Defense Ministry crashed into the sea early on Sunday, two minutes after taking off in good weather from the city of Sochi. It was carrying members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, widely known as the Red Army Choir, to a New Year’s concert at a Russian military base in Syria.
The ministry said 17 bodies and Tu-154 jet 223 body fragments have been recovered from the crash site.
Investigators now believe a fault with its wing flaps was the reason it plunged into the Black Sea, a source told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday.
The life.ru news portal, which has close contacts to law enforcement agencies, said it had obtained a readout of one of the pilot’s last words, indicating a problem with the wing flaps: “Commander, we are going down”, the pilot was reported to have said.
There was no official confirmation of the readout.
The Interfax news agency separately cited an unnamed investigative source as saying preliminary data showed the wing flaps had failed and not worked in tandem.
As a result, the aging Soviet-era plane had not been able to gather enough speed and had dropped into the sea, breaking up on impact.
If confirmed, the technical failure will raise questions about the future of the Tu-154, which is still actively used by Russian government ministries but not by major Russian commercial airlines.
Interfax cited an unnamed source as saying Russia had grounded all Tu-154 planes until the cause of Sunday’s crash became clear. There was no official confirmation of that.
The Defense Ministry said the jet, built in 1983, had last been serviced in September and underwent more major repairs in December 2014.
Russian pilots said the Tu-154 is still flightworthy, though major Russian commercial airlines have long since replaced it with Westernbuilt planes. Experts said only two are registered with Russian passenger airlines with the rest registered to various government ministries.
The last big Tu-154 crash was in 2010 when a Polish jet carrying then-president Lech Kaczynski and much of Poland’s political elite went down in western Russia killing everyone on board.
are registered with Russian passenger airlines, as major Russian commercial airlines have long since replaced it with Western-built planes.