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Russian plane crash hindered by wet flight data recorders

A fatal accident involving a plane crash in Russia killed 43 members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team. The deceased included a number of former NHL players and coaches from teams like the Detroit Red Wings.

Russian experts examining data recorders retrieved from the Yak-42 jet are having difficulty as the magnetic tapes which recorded events happening with the aircraft were still too wet to analyze.

The plane crashed into the Volga River after lifting off from an airport near the city of Yaroslavl which is located 150 miles northeast of Moscow. The hockey team had been on its way to Minsk to play in the opening season match of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Investigators have not been able to determine what caused the plane to fall into the river on takeoff. As a precautionary measure, Russian authorities are checking the remaining 60 Yak-42 passenger jets that are still being flown by Russian airlines.

A number of experts have suggested that the air travel safety in Russia is compromised by worn-out aircraft, a lack of government controls and poor training of pilots.

Even before the crash, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was calling for dramatic reforms of the aviation industry in Russia. His plan would include removing a number of aging Soviet aircraft from service. Current production of jet aircraft in Russia is not enough to replace the airplanes that are set to be retired.

The airport where the crash took place has resumed normal operations. All aircraft leaving the field were not being allowed to use the locally produced fuel. Investigators are considering fuel as a possible cause of the crash.

The remaining survivor of the plane crash is listed in critical condition at a Moscow hospital.

Source: The Detroit News "Russia: Wet data recorders hamper plane crash probe," Peter Leonard, Sept. 9, 2011

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