Aviastar banned from passenger transport after Tu-204 crash

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Russian authorities have banned the carrier Aviastar-Tu from transporting passengers as an investigation opens into the crash of a Tupolev Tu-204 on approach to Moscow Domodedovo.

Recovery personnel have retrieved the flight recorders from the twin-jet, which came down about 1km from the runway, while attempting to land at night in fog and poor visibility.

Despite the adverse weather, Russian federal air transport service Rosaviatsia says the aircraft - which was being ferried, without passengers, from Hurghada in Egypt - conducted a normal approach and the crew maintained contact with air traffic control.

"The crew did not report any failures, malfunctions, or the intention to make an emergency landing," it adds.

But around 1km from touchdown the aircraft "lost communication" and "disappeared from radar", it says. The cloud base was down to 60m and runway visibility was variable, at 450-700m, but the runway lighting was functioning normally.

Search efforts found the Tu-204's wreckage in woodland, where trees reached a height of up to 30m (100ft). There was no explosion or fire, but the fuel situation on board the aircraft has yet to be determined.

tu-204 crash
 © Interstate Aviation Committee

Three pilots, four cabin crew, and an engineer were on board but while a number of them sustained injuries, there were no fatalities.

Rosaviatsia says the flight recorders have been sent to the Interstate Aviation Committee for analysis.

But in the interim it has banned Aviastar-Tu, with immediate effect, from conducting passenger transport, and an examination of the airline is to be carried out.

The accident has attracted particular concern because the same aircraft, while operating a Moscow Domodedovo-Hurghada charter service yesterday with 210 passengers, returned to Moscow after the crew reported fumes in the cabin.

Rosaviatsia says that the problem was traced to an electrical heater malfunction, which was resolved and the aircraft was subsequently cleared for flight.