Medvedev seeks more power to ground unsafe carriers

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Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered new measures to ground airlines in the country which are unable to provide an acceptable level of operational safety.

Medvedev issued the instruction as part of a series of actions following the fatal loss of a Yakovlev Yak-42 at Yaroslavl on 7 September, an accident which only one person survived among the 45 on board.

By 15 November, the order states, the government must develop a process to "curtail activities" of carriers considered unsafe and submit a draft law to parliament to amend Russia's Air Code.

This amendment would cover implementation of international standards for aviation personnel training and a state programme for civil aircraft flight safety, as well as introduction of safety management systems.

The order seeks to increase penalties for violating regulations on preparation and conduct of flight as well as the possibility of greater powers to ground aircraft, and to broaden the role of the federal transport supervisory service.

It also calls for "urgent action" by February next year to provide support for leasing aircraft which meet modern standards and requirements, regardless of their state of manufacture.

Efforts to modernise Russian aircraft with installation of ICAO-compliant collision-avoidance systems - airborne and terrain - must be intensified, the order states, along with measures to ensure the fleet is fitted with emergency locator beacons compatible with the international Cospas-Sarsat satellite network.

Medvedev had vowed to introduce improvements after the Yaroslavl crash, the latest in a series of accidents in Russia this year.

"Similarly, we must pay our utmost attention to the training of pilots and flight crews," he said. "There are problems in this area, too, and it must also become our priority.

"Human error, which we hear about after such air crashes, is always a possible factor in any country. As a rule, it is the main reason for such tragedies but we must do everything possible to reduce this factor to a minimum."