Elevator check follows Tatarstan 737 crash

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Russia’s federal aviation regulator is asking operators of early Boeing 737 variants to check freedom of movement in the type’s elevator following the Tatarstan Airlines 737-500 accident at Kazan.

While the investigation into the fatal 17 November crash has yet to establish any conclusions, Rosaviatsia is seeking inspections of elevator power control units to check for foreign objects or significant contaminants in the vicinity of the input crank.

Operators are also being asked to verify the smoothness of elevator deflection, absence of the need for excessive force, and the delivery of sufficient elevator travel.

Rosaviatsia wants findings to be reported back by 15 December. The precautionary checks cover the 737-300 to -500.

US investigators have previously ordered similar checks on these variants after the crew of a 737-400, operated by Turkish carrier Tailwind Airlines, required strong column force – as well as full nose-down trim – to control the pitch of the aircraft during a go-around at Diyarbakir.

The June 2009 incident was traced to a tiny piece of metal debris which jammed the elevator power control unit, resulting in an uncommanded deflection.

Investigators looking into the Kazan accident have yet to determine why the Tatarstan 737, during a missed approach, climbed above the normal height for go-around procedures before being pushed into a steep dive from which it failed to recover.

Further details have emerged about the experience of the crew involved in the crash.

The captain had originally trained as a navigator before being retrained as a co-pilot on 737 jets, covering the -300 to -500, in June 2010.

He became a 737 captain in March this year, eight months before the accident. He had logged all but 227h of his 2,736h total flight time on the twinjet, and had 528h in command. His experience also included 1,039h of night flying.

The first officer worked as a flight engineer on Yakovlev Yak-42 trijets before entering commercial pilot training and moving to the 737 in 2011.

Like the captain, the first officer was trained on the 737 at Russia’s S7 Training Centre. He had logged 1,943h on the type – including 850h in night flying – from a total of 2,093h.