I’ve written before about appalling safety records in Russia; it’s one of the things that depresses me the most about the country, and I am quite the killjoy when it comes to jokes about poorly designed, cheap Soviet equipment. Sure, maybe Tupolevs aren’t as good as Boeings, but really, systemic corruption and poor regulation have created an environment where flouting rules and safety standards and making absurd errors are just part of the job description – for pilots, doctors, and many other professionals charged with ensuring the safety of the Russian people.
So, I can’t read the full English article because the Moscow Times loves to give me viruses (click at your own risk), but this: “The pilot of the chartered Yak-42 that crashed in September, killing most of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team, confused the plane’s brakes with footrests during takeoff, precipitating the tragedy.”
Thankfully, Kommersant explains (in Russian, but virus-free): “this mistake, it turns out, is not uncommon for pilots flying Yak-42s, as many of them are more familiar with a different model, the Yak-40, and have simply passed retraining courses to certify them on the Yak-42. The startup systems of the two models are very similar, but there is a significant difference involving a ledge intended for use as a footrest for the pilot: the Yak-42 lacks this detail.”
As usual, Russia waits until after a serious accident has occurred and 44 people have lost their lives to even address the apparent lack of adequate training, pilot accountability for said training, or both: “The Interstate Aviation Committee reacted quickly to the accident. Even before the investigation had finished, the committee leadership sent a telegram to all airlines using Yak-42s requiring that they ‘conduct trainings with aviation staff regarding correct foot position at different stages of flight.'”
A telegram! Well, then!