Russian media is reporting that investigators believe the crash of a Yak-42 that killed all members of an elite Russian hockey team last month may have been caused in part because the brakes were on during the takeoff run. As we reported at the time, the chartered trijet aircraft crashed in the Volga River moments after takeoff from Yaroslavl's Tunoshna Airport in clear weather. Russian investigators have since been running simulations and they point to the braking issue as the first stage of the accident chain.
Test pilot Vasily Sevastyanov, who took part in the simulations, told a Russian television network that a "braking force" caused an abnormally slow and long takeoff run. He speculated one of the pilots elected to continue the takeoff despite the slow speed and the aircraft stalled into the river. Investigators haven't publicly commented on the cause of the crash except to say that all the aircraft's systems appeared to be functioning normally. The lone survivor of the crash, the aircraft's flight engineer, told the TV station he couldn't say whether the brakes were on or not. The crash killed 44, including seven crew members and virtually the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team, which included several National Hockey League veterans and head coach Brad McCrimmon, a former NHL all-star defenseman from Saskatchewan.