Ice build-up may have caused Kazakh air crash
Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) (AFP)
A build-up of ice may have caused a passenger plane crash in Kazakhstan last month in which 12 people died but dozens survived, a state commission said on Friday.
The plane, operated by budget carrier Bek Air, was torn apart and its nose crushed on impact with a two-storey building minutes after taking off from Almaty on December 27.
Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar said the plane's wings had not been de-iced, causing a build-up that the commission had identified as the most likely cause of the crash.
"Work on treating this aircraft with anti-icing fluid was carried out only partly," said Sklyar, who is in charge of the state commission.
"The aircraft commander decided to treat only the stabiliser with anti-icing fluid -- the wings of the aircraft were not processed."
Sklyar also read out excerpts of the pilot's dialogue with his co-pilot that indicated a disagreement between the pair prior to the crash.
The plane was carrying almost 100 passengers when it crashed into the building but most survived without being seriously hurt.
Twenty-one people were still being treated for their injuries on Friday.
Viktor Sorochenko, head of the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee and another member of the commission, noted that ice build-up had been found as the cause of a crash involving another Fokker-100 in France in 2007.
The jet operated by an Air France subsidiary crashed imediately after takeoff from Pau airport on a domestic flight to Paris in January 2007.
No one on board was seriously hurt although a lorry driver died in the incident.
"We requested information about that investigation in order to conduct a detailed analysis. Then we will synchronize and draw conclusions," Sorochenko said.
Witnesses in the Kazakh crash spoke of the terrified screams of passengers as the plane, which was en route to the capital Nur-Sultan, came down on the edge of former capital Almaty.
Sklyar said that an anti-corruption investigation has been opened into regional officials' "illegal" allocation of land for housing at the site where the crash occurred.
Authorities ordered all Bek Air planes to be grounded following the crash.
Bek Air chief executive Nurlan Zhumasultanov said earlier this month that the company would consider moving its fleet of a dozen craft to a neighbouring country if authorities do not reinstate permission to fly.
Zhumasultanov, Bek Air's sole owner, was the head of the industry ministry's accident investigation committee prior to resigning over a scandal in June.
In March 2016, another Bek Air jet with 116 passengers on board had to make an emergency landing due to a landing gear problem, without causing injuries.
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