MOSCOW – Wednesday’s plane crash in Yaroslavl, Russia, that killed 43 people, including almost all of an elite hockey team, has resurfaced questions about air safety here.
At least 119 people have died in plane crashes in Russia in 2011, according to Aviation-safety.net, which tracks air transport incidents, making Russia the leader in plane crash fatalities this year.
Most often, plane accidents in Russia involve smaller, regional companies which still often rely on Soviet-era or domestically produced planes. All the crashes this year involved Russian or Soviet-era aircraft.
After visiting the crash site today, President Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged Russia’s safety issues. “We cannot go on like this,” he said. “If we are unable to sort it out, we must buy foreign aircraft.’’
Russia’s largest, international airlines like Aeroflot, Transaero and S7 almost exclusively operate Western-produced aircraft and generally have good safety records. But smaller companies, often cash-strapped, don’t properly maintain their planes. In addition, a lack of oversight means pilots don’t always receive the training they should be getting.