MOSCOW, January 31 (RIA Novosti) – A group of Russian senators has proposed banning using passenger aircraft older than 15 years in a bid to tighten airline safety only weeks after a plane crash that claimed the lives of all 50 people onboard.
The proposal appears to come in defiance of advice from senior aviation experts, who insist the age of aircraft is not a key factor in determining whether it is safe to fly.
The bill submitted to the lower house of parliament Thursday introduces several amendments aimed at toughening controls over aircraft safety and imposing harsher punishments for violations of safety rules.
Russia has for years been blighted by a dismal flight safety record. Most accidents occur on internal flights run by small regional airlines whose safety standards have often been found to be lax.
Andrei Golushko, a Federation Council senator who jointly drafted the bill, say the proposed legislation will clarify procedures for overseeing operations in air transport and raise the responsibility of companies operating aircraft to international standards.
“It is important that the bill introduces the principle of constant monitoring of safety and potential risks, because preventive measures are essential for flight safety,” Golushko said.
The document envisions the use of video-recorders in the cockpits and flight-simulators. Professional education and training for directors of aircraft operators, as well as pilots and technical personnel, is to become mandatory.
The bill also introduces tougher fines for falsification of pilot’s training and health records, as well as for attempts to conceal accidents involving aircraft.
State Duma lawmakers earlier proposed to ban the operation of aircraft older than 20 years.
The legislative initiatives have been promoted despite the insistence of Russian aviation authorities that the age of an aircraft was generally not a key issue in determining safety.
Moscow-based International Aviation Committee says its statistics show that the number of disasters worldwide involving aircraft with 50 or more seats was the same for both planes less than five years old and those built more than 30 years ago.
The latest major deadly air crash in Russia happened in November and involved a 23-year-old Boeing 737 operated by Tatarstan Airlines.
The plane carrying 50 crew and passengers on board had previously been involved in two incidents and underwent major repairs before being bought by the Russian airline.
Preliminary investigations made public so far appear to point to possible pilot error, however.