Data recorders in Russia crash badly damaged

People lighting candles in central St Petersburg in memory of those who died when a Flydubai plane crashed during landing at the Rostov-on-Don airport in southern Russia, last Saturday. The Boeing 737-800 jet operated by the United Arab Emirates-base
People lighting candles in central St Petersburg in memory of those who died when a Flydubai plane crashed during landing at the Rostov-on-Don airport in southern Russia, last Saturday. The Boeing 737-800 jet operated by the United Arab Emirates-based carrier crashed during its second attempt to land, killing all 62 people on board. Officials have suggested that the crash could have been caused by pilot error, a technical problem or strong winds.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MOSCOW • The flight recorders from a jet that crashed in southern Russia, killing all 62 people on board, are badly damaged and could take up to a month to decode, Russia's airline regulator said yesterday.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft, operated by Dubai-based budget carrier Flydubai, crashed on its second attempt to land at Russia's Rostov-on-Don airport in the early hours of Saturday.

Most of the passengers on board were Russian.

"The received recorders are badly damaged mechanically," Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) said in a statement on its website, alongside a photo of a crumpled recorder.

"Specialists... have started the inspection, opening and removing the memory modules from their protective coverings for further work to restore the cable connections and prepare to copy the data," the IAC said.

The RIA news agency cited an IAC official as saying that it could take one month to decode information from the recorders.

Under international aviation rules, the investigation will be led by Russia's air safety investigation agency with representatives from the United States, where the jet was made, and the United Arab Emirates, where the airline is based.

Flydubai chief executive Ghaith al-Ghaith said at a news conference in Dubai yesterday: "We have high confidence in the Russian authorities, who are capable of managing local conditions for flights," he said. "We fully trust the Russian authorities in this."

He added: "The airport was open. It was good enough to operate and good enough to land... The weather conditions were good enough for the flight."

In Rostov-on-Don yesterday, Russian workers continued to search the crash site in the -5 deg C cold, sifting through snow-covered debris strewn across the airfield.

After laying flowers next to piles of candles, children's toys and photos of the dead, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the airport would reopen today. "We mourn," read an inscription listing the names of all 55 passengers and seven crew who died in the crash.

Mr Al-Ghaith said last Saturday that it was too early to determine the cause of the crash, but officials have suggested that it could have been caused by pilot error, a technical problem or strong winds at the Russian airport.

Flydubai said it had not cancelled or delayed any flights because of the crash. The airline said in a statement that it was organising hardship payments to families of the victims amounting to US$20,000 (S$27,200) per passenger, in accordance with its conditions of carriage.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2016, with the headline 'Data recorders in Russia crash badly damaged'. Print Edition | Subscribe