Tu-204 operator Red Wings grounded after safety audit

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Russian carrier Red Wings is to be grounded within days following inspections in the wake of the fatal Tupolev Tu-204 accident at Moscow Vnukovo.

The country's federal aviation regulator, Rosaviatsia, stresses that the grounding - effective from 4 February - is not directly related to the crash, the causes of which are still under investigation.

But the accident resulted in an unscheduled six-day inspection of the airline earlier this month, focused on flight operations, pilot training and maintenance.

Rosaviatsia says this inspection has turned up "numerous significant violations" in these areas.

Red Wings Tu-204 had featured in other incidents around the time of the Moscow crash and Rosaviatsia says the latest - during a Chelyabinsk-Moscow flight on 29 January - involved a thrust-reverser failure in one engine, linked to "crew actions".

Preliminary inquiries into the Vnukovo crash, exactly a month earlier, have indicated that the aircraft overran after a failed attempt to engage reverse thrust.

Rosaviatsia says it will suspend Red Wings' air operator's certificate following the findings. It adds that the airline lacks financial resources to support its operations, and that this means it risks being unable to maintain the necessary high level of safety.

Red Wings has previously come under scrutiny from the regulator, which discovered shortcomings during two routine inspections last year. These have not been adequately addressed, Rosaviatsia says.

It states that passengers already booked on Red Wings flights will be given the chance to use tickets on other Russian airlines.

Red Wings has acknowledged the suspension, stating that it will continue to fly until the evening of 3 February.