MOSCOW — An error by a crew member committed during adverse weather conditions may have been responsible for the crash of a passenger jet last week in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don that killed 62 people, a report broadcast by Russian state television said, NY Times reports.
The Rossiya-1 television channel said late Friday that it had obtained a transcript of the pilot interactions a minute before the FlyDubai passenger jet nose-dived to the ground, killing all the passengers and crew members onboard. A source in the investigative commission with access to flight recorders provided the channel with the transcript.
The channel emphasized that its interpretation of the transcript could not be considered the official version of what had happened.
Flying from Dubai, the plane was not able to land on its first attempt because of heavy rain and wind, and it entered a holding pattern for two hours. On the second landing attempt, the crew decided to pull up and try again, but 40 seconds after beginning the ascent, one of the pilots switched off the autopilot, possibly in response to sudden turbulence, the report said. Seconds after the autopilot was turned off, the plane plunged to the ground.
“Don’t worry,” one of the pilots says, according to the transcript, which was translated into Russian, seconds before saying, “Don’t do that!” The last words recorded were repeated calls to “Pull up!” Only “inhuman screams” could be heard for the last six seconds.
The television channel cited experts who suggested that by turning off the autopilot, the pilots were trying to pull the plane back to a horizontal position. But at that moment a stabilizing fin at the jet’s tail was switched on.
With the fin activated, “the elevator is no longer working and the plane practically does not react to the pilot’s control panel,” the report said. The channel suggested that the pilot could have accidentally hit the button that activated the fin because of his reported “chronic fatigue.”
Russian investigators have opened a criminal inquiry into the crash. On Thursday, the investigative commission said that the flight recorders were in good condition and were being deciphered. The first preliminary reports of the commission could be made public within the next two weeks, they said.