Russian ex-minister named aircraft group head after plane blaze

Moscow (AFP) –


Russia's sate-owned United Aircraft Corporation on Monday appointed a former defence minister as chairman, days after one of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 plane it produces crash-landed and burst into flames at a Moscow airport, killing 41 people.

"The board members elected Anatoly Serdyukov as chairman of the board," the UAC said in a statement, adding that the decision was taken on May 8.

President Vladimir Putin fired Serdyukov from his post as defence minister in 2012 over his alleged role in a multi-million-dollar illegal property scam. He only ever faced one minor charge, however, and his case was subsequently closed.

Since 2015, the 57-year-old former furniture salesman has headed state-controlled military-industrial group Rostec.

The UAC corporation was created in 2006 and includes major state aircraft manufacturers such as Sukhoi, Ilyushin, MiG and Tupolev that produce both civilian and military aircraft.

Serdyukov's appointment comes as UAC is in the process of being integrated into Rostec, which is due to be completed by 2020.

Deputy Prime Minster Yury Borisov said last year that this integration will make it possible to solve a number of important problems for aircraft manufacturers and bring them additional investment.

UAC has experienced financial difficulties and faced criticism over the failures of its Sukhoi Superjet programme.

One of the Sukhoi Superjets -- launched under Putin to revive Russia's civil aviation industry but dogged by technical issues -- made a deadly crash landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on May 5.

The Aeroflot plane flying from Moscow to the Arctic city of Murmansk burst into flames after colliding with the runway while attempting to make an emergency landing, resulting in the deaths of 41 of the 78 people on board.

The two pilots survived and investigators have said that pilot error is one of the possible causes they are probing.