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Three theories for crash of Antonov An-12 cargo plane, killing all nine on board

By The Siberian Times reporter
27 December 2013

Pilot error, technical malfunction and bad weather are all possible causes checked by investigators.

The plane was 1 km from the runway when it disappeared from radars. Picture: Rossiya 1 TV, Vesti program

The Soviet-built turboprop plane was close to the limit of its 20,000 hour design airframe life, according to the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee.

It was 130 hours short of this maximum, it was reported. The aircraft fell on warehouses at a military unit outside Irkutsk, causing a fire but no casualties on the ground, said officials. 

The An-12 plane, owned by the Irkut Research and Production Corporation, was carrying aircraft components from Novosibirsk to Irkutsk. It crashed at about 21:45, local time, (16:45 Moscow) on Thursday near  Batareinaya station of the East Siberian railway during its landing approach.

The plane was 1 km from the runway when it disappeared from radars. On board were six crew and three others, described in some reports as aircraft technicians.

Spokesman of the Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin said: 'The detectives are investigating pilot error, the malfunction of the plane, and bad weather'.

All nine bodies have been found, but at least four have not been removed from the wreckage as investigators examine the cause of the crash. 

'They are in the plane, the same as the flight recorders. They are not taken out as the investigative action is underway,' said Valentin Nelyubov, acting head of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry's main department for Irkutsk region.

'Employees from the Irkutsk aircraft-building plant that were involved in organising the flight and its fuelling are being questioned,' said Markin. 

'Information is received about people who could have been onboard the airplane at the moment of the crash - six crewmen and three aircraft technicians.'

Detectives have confiscated the flight's technical documentation, individual flight records of the crewmen, the samples of the fuel the airplane was filled with.

A search was underway at the crash site. A criminal case was opened under Article 263 Part 3 of the Russian Criminal Code for violation of the air traffic rules and the aircraft steering rules that entailed the death of two and more people through negligence.

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