Updated 4:55 p.m. Moscow Time
MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK), an air disaster investigation authority in Russia and other ex-Soviet states, said Tuesday it would not open the black boxes from Monday’s plane crash in Vnukovo Airport in Moscow until specialists from France arrive.
Six French experts are expected to arrive later in the evening on Tuesday to begin investigations into the plane crash that killed French oil giant Total’s CEO when the aircraft hit a snowplow on the runway late Monday night.
The Falcon 50 business jet crashed late Monday night in the Vnukovo-3 Airport in Moscow after the aircraft hit a snow removal vehicle on takeoff. The aircraft was flying from Moscow to Paris with Total CEO Christophe de Margerie as the only passenger on board besides three crew members, also French citizens. All four died in the crash.
A mistake by air traffic control, the actions of the snowplow driver, bad weather conditions and the possibility of pilot error have been named among possible causes of the accident.
The snowplow driver, Vladimir Martynenko, was earlier detained for 48 hours. Russian investigators confirmed that he was drunk at the time of the accident, though Martynenko’s lawyer insists his client was sober due to a heart condition preventing him from drinking.
A Vnukovo source also told RIA Novosti that the plane's taxiing shortly before the crash was coordinated by a traffic control intern.
Russia’s air disaster investigation authority has set up a special committee to investigate the plane crash in Vnukovo, which will work in cooperation with the French experts to determine causes of the catastrophe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences over the deaths. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has stated Russia will do everything possible for an early investigation of the tragedy, adding that Total head's passing is "a big loss".