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Investigation Reveals Reason for Plane Crash Carrying KHL Team

A devastating plane crash in September was the last of a series of deaths and tragedies that plagued the NHL and the global hockey world throughout the summer and early spring. When the Yak-42 plane took off on September 7, only to crash shortly after, it killed 44 people including the majority of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team, flight attendants, flight crew, as well as the coaches and staff of the Lokomotiv hockey team. The only player of the team to survive the crash later died in hospital. Now, more news has been uncovered in the investigation and it turns out, the pilots of the plane are mostly to blame.

Alexei Morozov, who was leading the investigation into the crash, found that multiple pilot errors were to blame for the crash. Two pilots were controlling the plane during takeoff, and it was one of those pilots pressed on the brakes, at the same time yanking the plane upwards, much too quickly and much too sharply. Morozov said that the takeoff should have been aborted the moment the pilots realized that something had gone wrong, but it was fear of being reprimanded for it that kept them from doing so. Pilots on Russian planes that attempt multiple takeoffs, second runs, or stop at unscheduled airports run the risk of getting in hot water with their employers, facing things like the loss of bonuses and other consequences, all in an effort to save Russian airlines a little bit of money.

Other pilot errors include the fact that one of the pilots was taking seizure medicine known as phenobarbital, a substance that is banned for use by Russian pilots as it is a sedative. That same pilot is also being blamed for possibly having too large of an ego, and that he liked to take control of situations on the plane on his own and make the decisions. However, it was both pilots that activated the brakes at the wrong time during takeoff, and desperately tried to lift the plane by throwing both their body weights onto the steering wheels. Unfortunately, this only exacerbated the problem, as it caused them to push even more heavily on the brakes.

But the Yak-Service airline isn’t completely blameless either. After all, they were the ones that failed to notice that the second pilot was using a banned substance during medical examinations; and they were also the ones that caused the pilots to desperately fear the consequences of aborting the takeoff. Morozov put most of the blame on the airline, claiming that they didn’t train their crew properly, nor did they make sure that their planes were following proper safety standards. Other violations with the airline were also found shortly after the crash, forcing them to shut down in September.

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