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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia military probes loss of control in passenger jet

RIA Novosti

10:33 04/05/2011

MOSCOW, May 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian military prosecutors have launched a probe after a military passenger plane experienced a severe loss of control shortly after takeoff last week.

A video posted on YouTube shows the Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-154B-2 in a condition known as Dutch roll, at a very low altitude, minutes after taking off from the Chkalovsky airfield near Moscow on April 29.

The pilots managed to land the plane on their second attempt, despite the aircraft banking and pitching wildly.

"The military prosecutor's office has begun an investigation to establish the cause of the incident that could have led to an air crash," a prosecutor told RIA Novosti.

The source said there had been a failure in the plane's control system. Media reports said the aircraft had not been used for up to 10 years.

The Tu-154B is a Soviet-designed plane that entered service in the 1970s and is now only used for domestic flights by small airlines in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot took all of its remaining 23 Tu-154s out of service in January last year.

Russia's transport watchdog ordered domestic airlines to ground their Tu-154Bs after a Kolavia Tu-154B exploded in a fireball before takeoff from Surgut, in Siberia, in January, killing three people.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed along with 95 others in April last year when a Polish Air Force Tu-154 crashed near the western Russian city of Smolensk.

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