Russia grounds Tu-154Bs after fatal Kolavia blaze

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Russian transport authorities have ordered the grounding of Tupolev Tu-154B aircraft following the fatal blaze on a Kolavia aircraft at Surgut.

The Kolavia jet, a Tu-154B-2 variant, was completely destroyed in the fire which killed three of those on board.

Russian transport supervisory authority Rostransnadzor says that it has issued an order proposing to "suspend flights" of the type until the cause of the fire is known and risk-reducing measures established.

Kolavia's operations are to be scrutinised to ensure that the carrier complied with civil aviation regulations, adds the authority.

The Tu-154B is an ageing variant of the tri-jet. The aircraft involved in the Surgut fire was 27 years old.

Carriers which have the Tu-154B in their fleets include KavminvodyAvia and Orenair.

Investigators have recovered the cockpit-voice and flight-data recorders from the wreck of the Kolavia aircraft but have yet to disclose any initial findings regarding the nature of the fire.

Russia's emergencies ministry has stated that an electrical short-circuit sparked the blaze as the aircraft prepared to depart Surgut for Moscow on 1 January.