Kamchatka crash confirms Russia not a world class aviation safety regime

crash in sea of Okhotsk
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 AN-28 plane hits known hazard on approach to an airport without sophisticated air nav

Airport in remote Kamchatka Peninsula

Emblematic of Russia’s national aviation safety


In response to the recent Kamchatka crash, a reporter conclude that the tragic accident reinforces the conclusion that Russia has a “deteriorating aviation safety record.” There is more to support this opinion than one article. Here’s a few assessments which concur that Russia is not world class in its aviation safety performance

The Russian Federation is a huge country –eleven time zones, 17,000,000 square kilometers and 1/8 of the globe’s inhabited land. Much like Alaska, aviation should be its primary form of transportation and safety a primary national goal.

However,  Interstate Aviation Committee found that the safety level of aircraft transport in the CIS demonstrated “stable negative dynamics” during 2017. That Russian equivalent of the NTSB also recited that[1] :

“More aircraft disasters and fatalities occurred in Russia than in any other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nation last year, according to a report by the bloc’s top civil aviation authority…

cis LOGO and headquarters

“The paper’s authors noted that the absolute parameter of general flight safety was higher than in 2016, but also agreed that the relative index of accidents and disasters registered in 2017 was the worst since 2013.

According to the report, the 12 countries that comprise the CIS saw 58 aircraft incidents in 2017, including 32 aircraft disasters. In 2016, there were 63 such incidents and 28 disasters within the bloc. The number of human deaths was 74 in both 2017 and 2016.

Russia had the highest number of aircraft disasters and the number of individual fatalities. In 2017, the country had 39 aircraft incidents, including 20 disasters that saw 51 people killed. Ukraine had eight aircraft incidents that killed seven people, Kazakhstan had seven incidents with 11 dead, and Belarus, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Armenia had one incident each.

According to preliminary investigation results, over 80 percent of all aircraft incidents and disasters in 2017 were caused by human error, including three incidents that happened because pilots were under the influence of alcohol.

The authors of the report paid special attention to commercial passenger flights, saying that while the practice is becoming more widespread, airline operators continue to ignore safety issues while preparing and conducting flights. Among other safety violations they mentioned were pilots who have no working certificates, or pre-flight medical examinations, the use of aircraft without valid operating certificates, and the access of workers with low qualification to repair works.

The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) is the Commonwealth of Independent States’ equivalent in that it is  supervising body overseeing the use and management of civil aviation, the Air Accident Investigation Commission. Its report finding “stable negative dynamics”[1] during 2017.”

These concerns have been flagged since 2012. In 2013 IATA added its concerns about the level of aviation safety in the massive country. The global aviation trade association found:

  • “A flight accident occurs once in nearly 275,000 flights in Russia and CIS countries while the global average is one per 500,000 flights.IATA aviation safety
  • According to the IATA official, Russian airlines lack investments and trained pilots. Permission for foreign pilots to operate on Russian companies’ aircraft is just a temporary tool to cover the deficit.
  • He also said that local airports must upgrade their equipment because old equipment is potentially dangerous.”


TASS, the official news agency of this totalitarian government, made comments that can be summarized as follows:

Hydra head meeting likely to diffuse responsibility

TASS report does not mention the specifics to be rectified

Russia commercial airliner big goal, needs certification help

Perhaps it is the different form of government, but the high level meeting among two cabinet ministers, two agencies, state corporation, an airline, an airport and a manufacturer is not likely to succeed. Why? — because whatever responsibilities are assigned will likely be multifurcated. All of the entities are independent parts of the Russian federal government. Inter-institutional jealousies and territorial protection further appear to diminish the likelihood that consensus among the parties or a well-integrated plan results.

Reading from the TASS article,…the agenda is bereft of the specificity of actions and the data bases for any action. Clarity of purpose and of assignments would be critical to the success of the project in the West.

In the midst of a Russian effort to enter the commercial aircraft market, its competence to certificate these complex vehicles has been questioned by EASA:

The discrepancies result largely from the Kremlin’s 2015 decision to strip civil aircraft certification functions performed by the Commonwealth of Independent States’ Air Register of International Aviation Committee (ARMAK) and hand them over to the Federal Air Transportation Agency (Rosaviatsiya), an arm of the Russian government… As a result, new and modified Russian jetliners will need to repeat some two-thirds of the flight-test program already flown in the home country to meet EASA airworthiness requirements.

That is an incredibly damning statement from an organization that typically makes VERY diplomatic judgments about other governmental bodies.

all the government agencies



Plane crash emphasises[2] Russian poor safety record, regional woes



A plane crash in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula emblematises the nation’s deteriorating aviation safety record and a much bigger problem of its gigantic Far East region that faces depopulation despite its mineral riches, according to experts.

All 22 passengers and six crew on board the An-28 aircraft, including two children, died after the aircraft crashed into a rock that towers over the Sea of an 26 Okhotsk in northwestern Kamchatka, Russia’s volcano-studded Pacific peninsula, on a foggy, cloudy Tuesday afternoon…

There is no official conclusion into what triggered Tuesday’s crash, but Russian prosecutors say that possible causes may include a pilot’s error, bad weather or a technical glitch.

The incident indicates a larger problem of small Russian airlines operating decades-old planes that need better equipment, such as instrument landing systems, that ensure the precision of flights.

Newer equipment would increase the usability of each airport in bad weather – something known in aviation as a “meteorological minima”.

“This will give a chance to increase the meteorological minima, when safe takeoffs and landings are possible,” Oleg Panteleyev, a Moscow-based expert with the Infomost Consulting agency.

Russia also has one of the world’s worst safety records.[3]

According to a 2018 report by the Interstate Aviation Committee, a group that oversees air safety standards in the post-Soviet Union states, pilots’ errors cause 75 percent of plane crashes and other accidents in Russia and other ex-USSR states.

Some of the most recent deadliest crashes in Russia include the December 2016 tragedy, which saw a military plane crash into the Black Sea after taking off from Sochi International Airport, killing 92 people – including 64 members of the army choir on their way to Syria to perform for Russian troops.

In November 2013, a Boeing-737 owned by Russian company Tatarstan crashed in the Volga region city of Kazan, killing 50 passengers and crew.

In April 2010, all 96 people on board a Tupolev-154 Polish air force plane carrying Poland’s president and top Polish officials died in a crash near the western Russian city of Smolensk…

A dying region

(for more socioeconomic analysis, click on this link)PEOPLE OF THE REGION

Official response

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the bereaved families of Plana, and the regional governor pledged financial compensations of up to $5,000… PLANA MEMORIAL

Some locals, however, believe that the tragedy could have been prevented – because a similar plane crashed into the same rock nine years ago.

In 2012, another An-28 with 14 people on board collided with the Pyatibratka (Of Five Brothers) rock. Only four passengers survived, and a wooden Orthodox cross with the names of the dead marks the collision site.

Locals pledged to have the rock blown up or change the route of planes landing in Palana. Aviation officials supported the idea, the local Kamchatka Info publication reported.





[1] CIS’ NTSB : Flight Safety “Worsening” There


[2] stet

[3] Russia has the second highest number of airline accidents and fatalities in the world. Since 1945, airlines in this country have reported 360 accidents and 7,298 deaths. Although this country also has a busy airline travel market, it experiences a few problems which may contribute to its record. In 2011, Russia was considered the most dangerous country to fly from. In that year, the country experienced 9 commercial airline accidents, a number so high that it required an investigation into its air-safety practices. The investigation found that the commercial flights were being flown by insufficiently trained pilots who were following inefficient and outdated safety regulations and procedures. Countries With Most Airline Accidents In The World – WorldAtlas


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