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Alcohol Blamed in Petrozavodsk Crash

Medical examiners found that Atayev had a blood alcohol content of 0.081 percent.

Published: September 21, 2011 (Issue # 1675)


MOSCOW Adrunken flight navigator contributed toa June plane crash inPetrozavodsk that killed 47 people, with his authoritative instructions leading aless-experienced pilot toattempt afatal landing inheavy fog, investigators said Monday.

Thenavigator, Aman Atayev, would seem theleast likely culprit inthe incident, having logged more than 13,000 hours 541 full days onTu-134 jets. But theInterstate Aviation Committee said his intoxication was one ofthe factors that caused thecrash ofthe RusAir jet onJune 20 inKarelias capital.

Medical examiners found that Atayev, 50, had ablood alcohol content of0.081 percent slightly above thelegal limit inBritain andthe United States but aviolation ofRussian piloting rules.

Atayevs recent divorce had driven him todrink, though he never drank before flights, his former mother-in-law, Assya Shumakova, told Rossia-1 television onMonday.

Thebooze therough equivalent toa glass ofvodka caused Atayev, who had worked incivil aviation formore than 30 years, tobecome more distracted, talkative andassertive, investigators said.

Normally ona Tu-134, thenavigator doesnt do anything during landing, Roman Gusarov, editor-in-chief ofAvia.ru, anaviation news web site, said bytelephone Monday.

But Atayevs heightened activity inthe cockpit is clear fromthe cockpit voice recorder, cited bythe aviation agency, which wrapped up its investigation intothe incident Monday.

Sasha, come on, turn it faster! Atayev told thepilot five minutes before thecrash. Ill lead you right in, he then reassured him. Trusting his navigator, thepilot refused asuggestion fromair traffic controllers toabort his first approach.

Atayev also failed toinstruct him tosearch forground markers atan altitude of140 meters, andat 110 meters he failed towarn thepilot that he was losing his last chance topull up, according tothe crash report, which is posted onthe Interstate Aviation Committees web site.

Theco-pilot was effectively absent fromthe cockpit during thelanding, thereport said, without elaborating. It also said thecrews decision not touse certain navigational instruments was among thefactors that contributed tothe pilots decision toland.

Thepilot was also misled byweather reports that said theclouds would break at130 meters to140 meters, when inreality land-based beacons were only visible at70 meters or less below theairports minimum forincoming aircraft, thereport said.

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