The 1994 fatal crash of an Aeroflot Russian International Airlines (ARIA) Airbus Industrie A310 was due neither to pilot error nor technical deficiencies, says the initial draft of the Russian Department of Air Transport (DAT) official report.

The report blames the 22 March accident on "the unfavourable concurrence of a number of factors, such as the presence of children in the cockpit and the crew's insufficient knowledge of flying operational procedures of a foreign aircraft, as well as a series of other circumstances". All 75 occupants died when the aircraft spiraled from more than 30,000ft (10,000m) into the ground.

Separately, the DAT has also released figures showing that, among registered operators of Russian-registered fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in 1994, there were 57 accidents, of which 15 were fatal. Eighteen serious incidents occurred and 29 aircraft were written off. Fatalities totaled 245 passengers and 57 crew. In 1993, the DAT notes, the number of fatal accidents was 11.

Of the 15 fatal accidents, medium/heavy fixed-wing transport aircraft suffered seven, light transports two, medium/heavy helicopters two, and light helicopters four.

The most common cause of accidents, reports the DAT, was pilot error or violation of regulations, followed by "violations of operational rules in flight preparation and control", technical faults, and faulty operator-management practices. In 1994, 76 airlines lost their air operator's certificates and 14 were banned from international operation.

The DAT's report criticises its own safety inspectorate for failing to monitor the operation abroad of Russian registered aircraft, particularly those wet-leased to Third World countries. It notes the fatal crashes of a Yakovlev Yak-40 in Zaire, an Antonov An-32 in Mozambique and a Mil Mi-2 helicopter in Egypt. The DAT also records, an increasing number of regulatory and procedural violations by Russian operators abroad, notably, on charter flights to China, India, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Finally, the DAT report criticises airlines and the inspectorates for an inadequate capacity to maintain foreign-made aircraft in an airworthy condition.

Source: Flight International