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    Russia to carry out checks of all airlines operating Yak-42

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    Russian transportation authorities will carry out a check over the next three days of all airlines that operate the Yak-42, the aircraft type that crashed outside Yaroslavl on Wednesday, killing 43 people including virtually the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional hockey team.

    Russian transportation authorities will carry out a check over the next three days of all airlines that operate the Yak-42, the aircraft type that crashed outside Yaroslavl on Wednesday, killing 43 people including virtually the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional hockey team.

    "An unscheduled check of these planes will be conducted over the next three days," Transport Minister Igor Levitin said on Thursday during a meeting at the emergency response headquarters near the crash site.

    Sixteen Russian airlines currently operate 57 of the planes, Levitin said.

    Transportation watchdog Rostransnadzor and the federal air transport agency Rosaviatsia will carry out the check in conjunction with the General Prosecutor's office, he said.

    Yak-Service, the owner of the plane that crashed, has been in operation since 1993. It has a fleet of 10 aircraft, including Yak-40 and Yak-42 passenger jets.

    The ill-fated plane was manufactured in 1993 and underwent scheduled maintenance in Kazan last August. It was expected to undergo a thorough overhaul some time around the end of this year.

    Levitin said the two pilots at the controls of the doomed plane were "top-notch aviators."

    "The crew had excellent qualifications: the captain, a pilot first class, had 1,500 hours in the Yak-42 and the co-pilot had over 400 hours," Levitin said.

    President Dmitry Medvedev earlier directed the Transport Ministry and other relevant government agencies to take a careful look at the level of pilot training in Russia's civil aviation sector.

    "Not all is well in this area either," Medvedev said.

    Forty-three people - including all but one of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's players and coaches - were killed after the jet came down shortly after taking off from Tunoshna airport on Wednesday. Only two people, Russian player Alexander Galimov and a member of the crew, survived the crash. They remain hospitalized in critical condition.

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