A Let L-410 carrying a group of parachute jumpers crashed near the town of Menzelinsk, Russia, this morning, resulting in 16 fatalities. Another seven people have been rescued and are being treated for injuries following the accident.
Two crew members were transporting 21 parachutists in the Republic of Tatarstan. They were flying in a Let L-410 Turbolet twin-engine, owned by a local aeroclub.
Reuters reports that at an altitude of 70 meters (230 feet), the pilots reported that the plane’s left engine failed. Subsequently, the crew members attempted an emergency landing while veering the plane left to avoid an inhabited area. However, the aircraft’s wing hit a GAZelle vehicle as it landed and overturned.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched an investigation, suspecting a violation of safety regulations. Amid the pending investigation, the state-run Cosmonaut Training Centre, which uses the area, has suspended its connections with the aeroclub.
After the crash, the Russian Army, Air Force and Navy Volunteer Society (DOSAAF) announced that it has suspended all L-410 flights pending the end of the investigation. TASS shares the following quote from the organization about this move:
“On instructions from the chairperson of the Army, Air Force and Navy Volunteer Society, Alexander Kolmakov, all flights of L-410 type planes have been suspended until the end of the probe.”
Meanwhile, Ravil Nurmekhametov, chief of the Menzelinsky branch of Tatarstan Central Aeroclub, shared that the crash could not be averted. He said that the plane had no signs of problems and took off routinely. Then, when the engine failure was noticed by the crew, the pilots followed all instructions, but Nurmekhametov states that the aircraft failed to land “properly.”
The club leader also noted that the L-410 is well-designed and can touch down on both land and water if required. Despite the failure to land the plane, Nurmekhametov ruled out an error from the pilots, expressing that they were highly qualified.
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More on the plane
The Let L-410 Turbolet is a Czech short-range type that conducted its first flight on April 16th, 1969. At least 1,200 units have been produced since 1971, with the latest variant, the L 410 NG, conducting its first flight in 2015.
Registration RF-94591, the unit that crashed this weekend, conducted its first flight in April 1987. The plane then entered service with the USSR Air Force that same month and continued to serve Russia following the break up of the Soviet Union.
There will undoubtedly be further revelations as investigations continue into this incident. We will update the article with any additional announcements. Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy.