Federal investigator to grill ministry over Tu-204 crash

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Russia's main federal investigation authority is to question ministry officials over Tupolev Tu-204 safety in the wake of the fatal Red Wings accident at Moscow Vnukovo.

The Investigative Committee's transportation directorate says that officials, including those from the Russian transport ministry, "are going to be questioned in the near future" as part of its inquiry into establishing whether there are criminal aspects to the crash.

It says it is evaluating the "sufficiency and efficiency" of control over the airline involved and the measures to ensure flight safety by the Russian-built type.

Only three of the eight people on board survived the landing accident on 29 December. The Interstate Aviation Committee's preliminary analysis indicates that the pilots attempted to engage maximum reverse thrust before the aircraft's landing-gear sensors had detected the jet had touched down.

As a result, the high thrust selection acted to accelerate the aircraft, rather than slow it, and it overran the runway, hitting a highway embankment and breaking up.

The Investigative Committee says, however, that it is "too early to make final conclusions" regarding the cause of the crash.

Once the Interstate Aviation Committee has completed its inquiry, the Investigative Committee will conduct a "comprehensive" examination involving those who took part in the Tu-204's development and flight testing.

It will also look at whether decisions not to ground the Tu-204, or revoke the operating licence of the carrier, were "valid".