Pilots of a BAe 125-800 business jet failed to heed several terrain-awareness warnings before the jet collided with trees during a poorly managed night approach to Minsk, killing all on board.

Operated by S-Air, the midsize jet had been arriving from Moscow Vnukovo, with three crew and two passengers, on 26 October 2009.

Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee says the inquiry has relied mainly on cockpit-voice recordings to understand what happened during the last 30min of flight.

It says the crew experienced several problems - including a misunderstanding of the instrument landing system frequency - and "neglected" the effects of a crosswind that pushed the jet to the right of the centreline during the attempt to line up on the approach to runway 31.

The aircraft failed to descend on the glidepath during a first landing attempt, staying instead at a height of 600m (1,970ft) while the crew tried to understand what was wrong, until it was eventually too high to make the approach.

Having aborted the landing attempt, the crew made a second attempt but again drifted to the right of the approach path. Despite the triggering of several terrain-warning alarms, and an advisory from air traffic control that the jet was 500m off the centreline at 4km distance, the pilot continued the descent. The inquiry believes that he was trying to establish a visual reference, despite poor weather conditions.

It says the "lack of appropriate response" to the terrain warning resulted in the jet's hitting 30m-high trees about 2.6km from the runway. The inquiry also indicates that there may have been "resentment" between the pilots after the first failed approach, leading to a breakdown in co-operation on the second landing attempt.

Source: Flight International