Five dead in crash of business jet in Belarus - Summary

By : dpa

Minsk - A private jet crashed late Monday near Minsk, killing the three crew members and two passengers aboard, Belarusian Transport Ministry officials said. The mid-sized aircraft, a British Aerospace BAe 125-800, was owned by private Russian charter carrier S-Air. The dead included a top executive of the airline.

"We have found one of the flight recorders, and we are still looking for the reserve one," said Vadim Melnik, a Transport Ministry spokesman. "It is not clear what caused the crash; there is a wide variety of possible reasons."

Rescue workers searching wreckage some two kilometres from Minsk airport uncovered the remains of all five persons - four men and one woman - who had been aboard the flight, he said.

The airliner's crew reportedly made an initial attempt to land, canceled the approach and, on making a second approach, disappeared from airport radar.

"The plane deviated from the course that ground control gave it," according to the text of a Transport Ministry statement cited by the Belapan news agency.

The plane's pilot, Aleksander Samoilov, had more than 28 years' of flight experience with more than 11,900 hours of flight time logged, of which 1,450 had been at night, Belapan reported.

Samoilov had been piloting BAe-125 corporate jets since 2007 and had undergone crossover training at a British Aerospace flight school in England and the United Arab Emirates.

The twin-engine aircraft went down in a forest and tore a path about 250 metres long through trees until coming to a stop in flames about four kilometres from the airport, according to eyewitnesses.

Visibility had been excellent at the time of the apparent accident, news reports said.

The plane had taken off Monday evening from Moscow for Minsk. The passengers had planned to visit an upmarket casino recently opened in the Belarusian capital by Russian entrepreneurs, Melnik said.

The casino's operator, a Belarus-registered firm identified in news reports as the Shangri La company, chartered the plane.

The air charter company S-Air is registered in the central Russian city of Kaluga, with its headquarters at Moscow's Vnukovo airport. Aircraft currently operated by S-Air include seven Soviet- manufactured passenger planes and now three UK-produced BAe-125 corporate jets.

British Aerospace manufactured the BAE-125, a mid-range jet with a 10-person capacity including crew, from 1977 to 1993. The plane currently is built by Hawker Beechcraft under the name Hawker 800.



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