Kazan bomber crash: Tu-22M3 was repaired in Kaliningrad, not Kazan
A special defence ministry and Rostec commission are investigating the causes of the air crash near Murmansk
A Kazan strategic bomber Tu-22M3 made in the Soviet era suffered a catastrophe when landing in Olenya military airbase in Murmansk Oblast. According to preliminary information, three crew members died as a result. The exact causes of the incident are established. But Tupolev said this plane was manufactured by the Kazan aviation factory as early as 1986, the last major repair was at 150 Aviation Repair Factory JSC, which is part of Russian Helicopters, in Kaliningrad in 2012. Sources in the aviation sector note that Tu-22M was considered the most dangerous plane but don't exclude an unrelated factory won the tender with the lowest price.
Emergency in Olenegorsk military air base
Leading information agencies spread the news of the crash of the bomber Tu-22M3 within minutes. As TASS said citing sources in security services, the plane crashed when landing in the long-range regiment's aerodrome in Olenegorsk, which is 100 km far from Murmansk. The Russian long-range military air base on the Kola Peninsula is located here. The emergency occurred at about 13.40 Moscow time. As the Ministry of Defence said later, the bomber had a hard landing, it didn't crash like it was said in the first messages.
According to preliminary information, the Tu-22M3 performed the landing without ammunition, which might indicate the crew was operating a training flight, not a combat flight. On 22 January evening, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced the causes of the accident. ''The accident took place when the bomber faced snow flurries during a scheduled flight,'' the military ministry's message says. Here it was confirmed that ''the plane that had a hard landing didn't have ammunition''.
Three crew members die
The Tu-22M3 plane was navigated by a crew of four members, information agencies say. According to preliminary data, two of them survived after the emergency happened – the crew captain and the pilot. The Russian Ministry of Defence said they were injured, while the other two died when attempting to land (information about the third victim appeared later). We're talking about the assistant to the plane captain and the operator. Contradictory data were spread about the fate of these two crew members first. Some agencies said there wasn't accurate information about the plane (bomber of Russian Aerospace Forces) captain and the operator at the moment. All crew members served in the aerodrome of Olenya base. A special commission with representatives of the Russian Ministry of Defence and the United Aircraft Building Corporation, which is part of Rostec, has been created to investigate the causes of the accident.
Tu-22M3 is a supersonic launch vehicle and bomber that's historically manufactured at the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Factory. As Tupolev PJSC's press service told, this plane was made in Kazan in 1986, but the last major repair was seven years ago, in 2012. And it wasn't made in Kazan, what one could suppose, but in Kaliningrad.
''The major repair was at 150 Aviation Repair Factory JSC in 2012,'' the press service indicated. Specialists of the manufacturer and producer of the Tu-22M3 will take part in the work of the commission on investigation of the air crash's causes.
Kaliningrad aircraft factory substitutes Kazan factory
The Kaliningrad Aircraft Repair Factory was part of Russian Helicopters holding. There was certain competition between it and the United Aircraft Building Corporation for repair contracts, notes industry sources. They don't rule out the unrelated factory won the tender in state procurement with the lowest price. The work is evaluated at billions of rubles.
Experts have noted many times that Tu-22M is the most dangerous plane, as about 20% of all the air fleet have crashed since the beginning of its use. It participated in military operations in Libya. But the last accident was in 1992, that's to say, over 25 years ago. Now the Kazan aviation factory continues updating Tu-22M3M. The first flight of well updated Tu-22M3M launch vehicle and bomber took place in the aerodrome of the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Factory – an office of Tupolev PJSC – on 28 December.
Tupolev PJSC is expressing its condolences to the families and relatives of those who died.