Russia Saratov crash: Ice on sensors ‘may be cause’

Media captionWreckage was strewn across a wide area

Speed sensors that were iced over may have caused a passenger jet to crash near Moscow, killing all 71 people on board, investigators say.

The faulty instruments could have given the pilots wrong speed data, Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee said.

The Saratov Airlines jet went down minutes after take-off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Sunday.

No emergency call came from the plane. The Antonov An-148 was en route to Orsk in the Ural mountains.

What are the investigators saying?

A preliminary analysis of the information in the flight recorder indicated that a “special situation” began to develop two and a half minutes after the plane took off, at an altitude of around 1,300m (4,265ft), the committee said, according to Tass news agency.

The speed indicated was 465-470km/h (289-292mph). At that moment, it added, there were divergences between the readings of the speed sensors.

Iced-over speed sensors, known as Pitots, were cited as the likely reason for a 2009 Air France plane crash, which killed 228 people.

What do we know so far?

Contact was lost minutes after the plane took off at 14:27 (11:27 GMT) on Sunday.

Flight-tracking site Flightradar24 said it then descended at the rate of 1,000m (3,300ft) per minute.

The jet, which was reportedly seven years old, was being flown by an experienced pilot who had 5,000 hours of flying time, the airline told Ria-Novosti news agency.

More than 700 people are involved in the search operation, struggling through deep snow.

The emergencies ministry is collecting DNA samples from victims’ relatives as part of the identification process.

Russia Saratov crash: Ice on sensors ‘may be cause’

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