Medvedev demands 'radical' aviation reform after Yak crash

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Russian president Dmitry Medvedev underlined a need to cut the number of carriers operating in the country in the wake of another fatal accident, after a chartered Yakovlev Yak-42 crashed on departure from Yaroslavl.

Medvedev said that Russia needed to "drastically reduce" its plethora of airlines - a legacy of the break-up of the Soviet-era Aeroflot - in order to give operators the economic power and resources to modernise and attract qualified staff.

The measures needed to be carried out "in a very short time", Medvedev added.

Russia's federal transport supervisor Rostransnadzor suspended Yak-42 services after the 7 September crash wiped out the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv ice-hockey team who were bound for Minsk. One player and the flight engineer survived from among the 37 passengers and eight crew.

Yaroslavl's regional administration said the jet, operated by Yak Service, failed to climb and struck a navigation aid before crashing into the Tunoshenka river, which feeds into the Volga, 1.4nm (2.5km) west of the airport.

While Medvedev stressed he was not pre-empting the inquiry, there was a "big problem" with civil aviation safety in Russia. Despite allocation of funds and renovation of airports, he said, the situation "remains troubled", with several accidents this year.

Investigation results should serve as a basis for "radical change" including acquisition of modern aircraft, "regardless of country of origin", he said.

Medvedev said there had been frequent discussion on mergers and the enforced closure of airline companies which did not meet certain standards.