Investigators probing the fatal crash of an Ilyushin Il-86 in Moscow are focusing on the horizontal stabiliser. The aircraft, operated by Pulkovo Airlines, crashed shortly after take-off from Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport on 28 July.

The 350-seater (RA-86060) was operating a positioning flight to the airline's technical base in St Petersburg with 16 crew on board (including four flightdeck crew), all but two of whom were killed. According to Russia's aviation authority, the GSGA, the ferry flight was being made after the aircraft suffered an unspecified technical problem while operating a holiday charter to Moscow from Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The 19-year old aircraft reached an altitude of 560ft (200m) and, say eyewitnesses, pitched up dramatically before crashing 1,200m from the end of the runway. Initial analysis of flight data recorders indicate that the aircraft suffered a horizontal stabiliser failure. It is understood that the stabiliser began deflecting from the normal take-off position just after the Il-86 lifted off, pitching it nose up. The elevators were found in the fully down position. The GSGA has instructed operators flying the 35 Il-86s in Russian service to inspect elevators and controls.

Around 50 Il-86s are in operation worldwide. While this is the type's third total loss, it is the first to result in fatalities on board the aircraft. The first Il-86 to be destroyed in an accident was hit by a Boeing 737-200 while parked at Delhi Airport in 1984. Another Il-86 was written off last September when it landed with its gear retracted at Dubai.

Source: Flight International