The Russian-based Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK), together with the European Aviation Safety Agency and the ATR company, is carrying out trial simulator flights as part of an investigation into the crash of a passenger airliner in Russia in April, MAK said on Tuesday.
"As part of the investigation into the UTair ATR 72 catastrophe which happened on April 2, 2012, a group of MAK specialists, test pilots from GosNII (state test flying establishment) and pilots from UTair airline flew to Toulouse (France) where the aircraft was made. Together with specialists from BEA (French flight safety investigation authority), EASA and ATR, we plan to discuss the results from ATR company specialists, mathematical modeling of the flight, and also flights in the simulator to analyze the crew's actions on the aircraft that crashed," MAK said.
The acquired information should help explain why the ATR72 plunged to the ground less than two minutes after taking off, having reached an altitude of about 210 meters (660 feet).
“After takeoff the aircraft climbed to an altitude of around 210 meters after which it first banked 35 degrees to the right and then to the left reaching over 50 degrees by the time it hit the ground,” MAK said on April 3.
Only 12 of the 43 on board survived the crash.
Investigators are focusing on the crew's failure to have the aircraft deiced before takeoff, despite the prevailing cold weather conditions, as the most probable cause for the disaster, Investigative Commitee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in May.
UTair’s CEO Andrei Martirosov said that month all UTair aircraft would undergo "mandatory" deicing before flight. Previously, the decision on whether or not to deice the aircraft had been left to the captain.
Icing has also been attributed as the cause of two earlier fatal crashes involving the ATR 72, including the loss of American Eagle Flight 4184 in 1994. Investigators in Britain looking into the causes of that accident later flew flights with an ATR which proved it was susceptible to icing in certain conditions.
Ice build-up on the wings and tail of an aircraft can cause a stall and loss of lift in certain conditions.