December 6, 2013 / 11:31 AM / 4 years ago

Russia crash pilot may have had dubious licence-investigators

MOSCOW, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The pilot of an airliner that crashed near the Russian city of Kazan last month, killing 50 people, may have received his licence from a training centre that was later closed on suspicion of operating illegally, investigators said on Friday.

The Nov. 17 crash killed all 44 passengers and six crew, and highlighted the poor safety record of regional airlines that ply internal routes across the world's largest nation.

Crash investigators said at the time the pilot of the Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 had aborted a first attempt to land. In making a second effort, he had pushed the steering column forward, pitching the plane into a nosedive that brought the aircraft crashing into the tarmac.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax there was reason to believe that many pilots working for smaller Russian airlines had effectively "received fake commercial licences" as they had not undergone proper training.

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