Is this a $6.6m plane destroyed by disgruntled worker, or a tall story?

Mel Buttigieg

A video has emerged of a Russian passenger airplane being crushed by a large crane, supposedly a form of sabotage from a former employee.

The video, shared to LiveLeak in February, shows an excavator tearing through the UTair plane’s aluminum body like a can opener.

The excavator begins to smack into the front of the UTair jet. Picture: Liveleak/Analisator

The 30 second video begins with a yellow excavator raising its arm towards the Yah-40.

The bucket of the machine slices into the front of the airplane repeatedly, tearing a large hole near the cockpit.

The cryptic caption accompanying the footage says: “Pilot owed some money tractor driver,” and the aircraft is believed to be worth $6.6 million."

The story circulating on social media indicated the commercial airplane was destroyed in revenge by an irate former airport employee who was fired.

The digger's claws slice through the plane's body like a can opener. Picture: Liveleak/Analisator

But users of the video sharing site were quick to speculate the story was a big fib.

Some LiveLeak users said the crane was demolishing of an old model of plane which had been pulled from use amid the airline’s reported financial troubles.

“UTair doesn't currently have any active Yak-40's in their fleet. I'm guessing these are defunct aircraft,” one commenter was quick to point out.

Another viewer said: “They’re massively reducing their fleet during 2015 so this footage is probably just Russia's way of recycling scrap aluminium.”

“UTair is in serious financial trouble. They are probably ridding themselves of some assets,” said another.

The excavator can be seen repeatedly cutting through the plane towards the cockpit. Picture: Liveleak/Analisator

Aviation news website speculated the gutting was planned and not an act of revenge, as it is believed UTair has had the planes out of service for some time.

“That looks exactly like how someone would start scrapping these little birds. That looks like a planned cut to remove the cockpit section,” one reader commented.”

Another wrote: “Seems like the aircraft is missing it's engines (at least the one on the starboard pillion). From that I would deduce that this is a scrapyard.”

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