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Russia halts Tu-154B flights after passenger jet fire and explosion

01-03-2011 10:02 BJT

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Russia's transport oversight agency is making a bold move following a plane crash Saturday. The body is ordering the country's airlines stop using Tu-154B planes until the cause of a passenger jet fire and explosion that killed three people is determined.

Russia's transport oversight agency says airlines must obey the order that suspends the operation of Tu-154B planes. There are reportedly 14 in service in Russia.

The Tu-154B has been in use since the early 1970s and is common on Russian domestic flights and used extensively in other countries, including Iran and former Soviet republics.

No cause has been determined for Saturday's fire, which killed 3 and injured 43 people. The fire began as the plane carrying 124 people taxied for takeoff at an airport in western Siberia, about 21-hundred kilometers east of Moscow. Frightened passengers clawed their way through the smoke-filled cabin and most managed to escape before the explosion.

Investigators found the plane's flight recorders and have taken fuel samples and documents from the regional airline, Kogalymavia, that used the plane.

The Tu-154, similar to the Boeing 727, is noted for its ability to operate on gravel and unpaved airfields. However, noise regulations eventually stopped the jet from flying to most of Europe. Russian flag carrier Aeroflot took the plane out of service in December 2009.

There have been more than 30 fatal incidents involving Tu-154s over their long history, but many of them were attributed to pilot error, poor maintenance or irresponsible operation.

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Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: CNTV.CN

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