Russia says February plane crash caused by pilot error

The An-148 plane operated by domestic carrier Saratov Airlines went down 70 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of the Russian capital on February 11 shortly after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport

Russian investigators said on Tuesday a plane crash outside Moscow in February that killed 71 people was the result of "erroneous actions" by the crew.

The An-148 plane operated by domestic carrier Saratov Airlines went down 70 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of the Russian capital on February 11 shortly after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.

All 65 passengers and six crew members on board died and the airline suspended use of the plane after the disaster.

"The principal version of the crash has been confirmed: it was caused by the erroneous actions of the crew," Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement.

"According to the data from the black boxes, the pilots did not switch on the heat detection sensors during the climb, leading to them becoming iced-up," it added.

"The main pilot Valery Gubanov received incorrect information about the aircraft's drop in speed and decided to increase speed by sending the plane into a dive. The aircraft then became uncontrollable."

The findings confirm an initial version given a day after the crash by Russian experts.

Iced-up pitot tube instruments were also named as the likely cause of the crash of Air France 447 flight into the Atlantic in 2009 which killed 228 people on board.

Russia has suffered numerous plane crashes, with airlines often operating ageing aircraft in dangerous flying conditions.

A light aircraft crashed in November last year in Russia's far east, killing six people on board.

In December 2016, a military plane carrying Russia's famed Red Army Choir crashed after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi, killing all 92 people on board.

Pilot error was blamed for that crash.

In March 2016, all 62 people on board died when a FlyDubai jet crashed in bad weather during an aborted landing at Rostov-on-Don airport in southern Russia.

The An-148 plane operated by domestic carrier Saratov Airlines went down 70 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of the Russian capital on February 11 shortly after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport