Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Plane Crash- Study of Russia is the Study of Contradictions

When you study Russia you learn to look for contradictions

Russian media coverage surrounding a plane crash that killed almost an entire Russian hockey team last week serves as a good example as to why I find Russia so fascinating. 

Here is a timeline of articles I read in the Moscow Times last week:

September 2, 2011:

State-Backed Program Promises Aviation Industry Influx of Pilots With Less Training

02 September 2011

A new school year always brings change, but flight schools are observing a landmark moment: Student pilots will fly less and graduate faster under a new state-backed program.
The shortened — and cheaper — flight lessons should help curb a deficit of pilots amid an explosion in air traffic, state aviation officials said in interviews.
But independent aviation experts fear that the new program might churn out poorly trained pilots and increase flight safety risks.
The new international training program, named the Multi-Crew Pilot License, is being taught from Thursday at the two Russian flight schools offering higher education for pilots, in St. Petersburg and Ulyanovsk, said Alexander Timokhin, a senior official with the Federal Air Transportation Agency.”

When you study Russia you read the information that’s provided in the papers but you constantly think to yourself, “What is actually going on over there?” 

Analysis: Bypassing airline safety protocols is a bizarre way for the Russian state to cut corners. 

(Five days later)September 7, 2011 Russian plane crashed killing an entire hockey team.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about the crash:

The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash (Yak-Service Flight 9634) occurred at 16:05 Moscow Time on Wednesday, 7 September 2011, when a Yak-Service Yakovlev Yak-42, carrying the professional ice hockey team and coaching staff of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League(KHL), crashed near the Russian city of Yaroslavl. The aircraft ran off the runway before lifting off, failed to gain height, struck a tower mast, caught fire and crashed 2 km (1.2 mi) from Tunoshna Airport. Of 45 onboard, all but two persons (one player and one crew member) perished.[3][4] The tragedy forced Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to cancel their participation in the 2011–12 KHL season.[5]

So, as a Russian Scholar, you wait to see if anyone is going to mention anything about that plan from the September 2, 2011 Moscow Times which said that the state intended to produce pilots with less training! 

Instead, you see this in the Moscow Times:

September 9, 2011Medvedev Orders Airline Overhaul After Lokomotiv Tragedy
09 September 2011
President Dmitry Medvedev declared on Thursday an urgent overhaul of domestic airlines following the Yak-42 plane crash that killed 43 people, robbing the country of the star ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
This is the first time that the Kremlin has recognized deep-running problems such as poor aircraft maintenance, a lack of pilots, poor flight training, aging production facilities and negligent state supervision...”

When you get news from Russia, you're invariably left with more questions than answers.

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