Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363
VQ-BBN, the aircraft involved in the accident, photographed in May 2011
|Date||17 November 2013|
|Site||Kazan International Airport, Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737-53A|
|Flight origin||Domodedovo International Airport, Moscow Oblast|
|Destination||Kazan International Airport, Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia|
Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight operated by Tatarstan Airlines on behalf of Ak Bars Aero from Moscow to Kazan, Russia. On 17 November 2013, at 19:20 local time (UTC+4), the Boeing 737-500 crashed at Kazan International Airport while attempting to land, killing all 44 passengers and 6 crew members on board. The crash resulted in the temporary closure of the airport.
The Boeing 737-53A, registration number VQ-BBN, had been in service for more than 23 years. It had been operated by seven airlines. Owned by AWAS from its manufacture (Boeing customer code 3A represents AWAS), it was leased to Euralair (1990 to 1992, registered F-GGML), Air France (1992 to 1995, still as F-GGML), Uganda Airlines (1995 to 1999, registered 5X-USM), Rio Sul (2000 to 2005, registered PT-SSI), Blue Air (2005 to 2008, registered YR-BAB), Bulgaria Air (several months in 2008, registered LZ-BOY), and Tatarstan Airlines (late 2008 until it crashed).
The airframe had been involved in two prior incidents:
- While in service with Rio Sul, on 17 December 2001, the aircraft crashed about 70 metres (230 ft) short of the runway while landing at Tancredo Neves International Airport under adverse weather conditions, damaging its landing gear. All 108 passengers and crew on board survived.
- On 26 November 2012, the aircraft made an emergency landing in Kazan due to problems with cabin depressurization shortly after take off.
Whilst on final approach to Kazan International Airport, the crew initiated a go-around due to an unstable approach but crashed onto the runway in a 75-degree-nose-down attitude, at a speed of 242 knots (448 km/h), moments later, and exploded upon impact with the ground. A second explosion occurred 40 seconds after impact. One of the airport's surveillance cameras caught the crash on video. All 44 passengers and 6 crew members were killed; there were no casualties on the ground. High winds and cloudy conditions were reported at the airport at the time of the crash.
The full list of the passengers and crew was published by the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Among the deaths were Irek Minnikhanov, son of Tatarstan president Rustam Minnikhanov, as well as the head of Tatarstan's Federal Security Service regional office, Aleksandr Antonov.
The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) launched an investigation into the crash and arrived at the site on 18 November. Both flight recorders, the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), were recovered from the wreckage. The Tatarstan Transport Prosecution Office has opened a criminal investigation into the crash. The American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dispatched a team of investigators to the crash site.
On 19 November, Aksan Giniyatullin, the director of Tatarstan Airlines, declared that although the cockpit crew was experienced, the captain of the airliner may have lacked experience performing a go-around maneuver. Moments before the crash the pilot informed the control tower that the aircraft was not properly configured for landing and initiated a go-around, before plunging into the ground as if it had stalled. Investigators said the possible causes of the accident included technical malfunction as well as pilot error.
The Investigation Board of IAC reported the following preliminary details after recovering some information from the flight data recorder:
Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737-500 Accident Technical Investigation Board of IAC informs about preliminary results of flight data recorder information recovery.
During the final approach the flight crew were unable to follow a standard landing pattern defined by the regulating documentation. Having considered the aircraft is not lined-up properly relative to the runway, the crew reported to the ATC and started to go around using the TOGA (Take Off / Go Around) mode. One of the two autopilots, which was active during the final approach, has been switched off and the flight was being controlled manually.
The engines reached thrust level close to full. The crew retracted the flaps from 30 degrees to 15 degrees position.
Affected by the upturn moment generated by the engine thrust, the aircraft started to climb, reaching the pitch angle of about 25 degrees. Indicated airspeed has started to decrease. The crew retracted the landing gear. Since initiating the go-around maneuver up to this moment the crew did not perform control actions through the yoke.
After the airspeed decreased from 150 to 125 knots, the crew started control actions through the yoke, pitching nose down, which has led to stopping climb then starting descent and increase of the airspeed. Maximum angles of attack have not exceeded operational limits during the flight.
After reaching the altitude of 700 meters, the aircraft started a steep nosedive, with the pitch angle reaching −75° by the end of the flight (end of the recording).
The aircraft collided with terrain at high speed (exceeding 450 km/h) and with highly negative pitch angle.
About 45 seconds have passed between the moment of starting go-around maneuver and the moment the recording stopped, the descent took about 20 seconds.
The propulsion systems were operating up to the collision with terrain. No single commands have been detected by the preliminary analysis, which would indicate failures of systems or units of the aircraft or engines.
On December 24th 2015 the Interstate Aviation Committee released their final report stating that the crash was caused by an underqualified crew who lacked the skills to recover from an excessive nose up attitude during a go-around procedure. The go-around was necessitated by a positional error in the aircraft system, a map drift. The pilots’ deficiencies were caused by lack of airline safety management and lack of regulators’ oversight.
In early December 2013Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency recommended the airline's AOC to be revoked; the annulment was announced on 31 December 2013. The aircraft park of the company was transferred to Ak Bars Aero.,
A modification of the Russian legislation to limit the age of Western-built aircraft that operate in the country to 15 years has been proposed.
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