Tu-204 crash probe finds catalogue of operational deficiencies

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Russian investigators have attributed the crash of a Tupolev Tu-204 at Moscow Domodedovo to the crew's failure to abort an unstable approach despite evidence that the aircraft was not on the correct course.

But the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) has also catalogued a series of deficiencies at the carrier which, following the accident, was banned from operating passenger services.

The aircraft had been conducting the approach in darkness and poor weather on 22 March. MAK states in its final inquiry report that the crew failed to execute a go-around at the decision height, and continued to descend "in the absence of visual contact with landmarks".

Operated by Aviastar-Tu, the twin-jet was tracking some 700m (2,300ft) left of the extended centreline for much of its approach to runway 14R, before it crossed the centreline about 2km from the threshold at a height of just 45m.

At a point 1.6km from the runway, and 60m to the right of the centreline, the Tu-204 hit 20m-high trees carved its way through an area of forest before coming to rest. All eight crew members, the only occupants, survived.

Tests on the runway's navigation and lighting systems showed there was no technical problem.

But the investigators found that the pilots had needed to cope with a failure of the flight-control computer. MAK says the crew had inadequate training to carry out an approach in the difficult conditions, and demonstrated poor management of their resources.

It says that aspects of Aviastar-Tu's operations, such as planning for possible diversion due to weather, were poorly organised. MAK also discovered "serious deficiencies" with the carrier's pilot training capabilities, including simulators which did not match the characteristics of the aircraft.

MAK adds that it analysed the carrier's rosters and turned up "serious violations" relating to duty times, including excessive working hours and failure to provide full rest periods at proper intervals.