Source AP ©

Interstate Aviation Committee reports experts blame crew and flight controllers in Russia's Tu-134 crash in March

The experts investigating a Russian plane's crash that killed six people in March came to the conclusion that the crew and flight controllers were guilty in the accident.

The Interstate Aviation Committee - a body created by Russia and other ex-Soviet nations to investigate air crashes - said in a report posted on its Web site Thursday that the crash of a Tu-134 passenger jet occurred because of controllers' failure to warn the crew of worsening weather and the crew's erroneous decision to land despite poor visibility.

The airliner belonging to Russia's private UTair carrier hit the ground while trying to land in deep fog at an airport in the Volga River City of Samara, killing six and injuring more than 20 people on March 17. Its pilot decided to land even though he could not see the tarmac lights, and slammed into the field about 300 meters (yards) away from the landing strip, the report says.

While investigators have routinely blamed crews for most of the recent crashes in Russia, many pilots and aviation experts point to deeper reasons, including weak government regulation and a cost-cutting mentality by many small carriers that sometimes fine pilots who abort flights and landings for spending extra fuel.

Russia and the other former Soviet republics had the world's worst air traffic safety record last year, with an accident rate 13 times the world average, according to the International Air Transport Association. Last year, 318 people died in two major crashes and eight lesser ones of planes flown by Russian carriers - close to half the world's total of 755 fatalities reported by the International Civil Aviation Organization.