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Cargo plane crashes near Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport

Search and rescue teams are at the crash site of an Antonov-12 cargo plane that came down after take-off near Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. Latest reports say there were seven people onboard. There are no survivors.

The An-12 was flying from Moscow to the city of Bratsk in the Irkutsk region. It crashed in a wooded area near a local cemetery some four kilometres from the airport. The causes of the incident are yet to be determined. However, thick fog in the morning might have contributed to it, RT’s correspondent Angie Walker reports.

The four flight recorders from the An-12 have already been discovered. An investigation into the causes of the incident is being carried out. Russia’s Deputy Transport Minister Boris Korol says result may come as early as in two days.
“Time needed for deciphering depends on the condition of the flight recorders. At first sight, they are not damaged. If they are OK, it would take two days. If they are damaged, then we'll need more time,” he said.

Aleksandr Sevian, the Vice President of the Atran company which owns the plane says the crew were very experienced:

“We don't have any scenarios as to why the accident occurred. The plane was in good order. We undertook all the necessary pre-flight measures in accordance with technical maintenance regulations. All of the crew were experienced pilots with over 5 thousand flight hours,” Mr Sevian said.

Nikolay Baranov, an aviation expert, believes  there may be two main reasons for the crash:

“One is piloting error – the human factor – second is equipment failure. A plane can certainly fall due to external causes, for instance after hitting a bird, but we are not at war now, and aircraft are not brought down, so I’d put external factors low on the list. There are other possible causes but they were already eliminated, since the traffic control said the plane was not overloaded,” Mr Baranov said.

The incident didn't cause any disruption to the airport’s operation.

The Antonov 12 plane – also known as a “Cub” – is very similar to the U.S. Lockheed Hercules in terms of configuration. The plane has a crew of five and It can carry 20 tonnes of cargo or alternatively 90 troops. Its maximum speed is almost 800 kph and it has a maximum range of 6,000 km.

The first prototype of the An-12 took off in 1957. Over 900 had been built before the Soviet Union stopped production in 1973. However, these planes are still being produced in China, under the name Yun-8.

The crash of Antonov-12 near Moscow's Domedodevo airport is not the only one in recent years. A review of the craft's safety record reveals a number of incidents.

The craft was intended for moving heavy loads, people and military equipment. There are about 600 An-12 planes in Russia.

There have been a number of incidents involving these aircraft.

In July 2006, an An-12 crashed in Congo soon after take off, killing three Russians from the crew.

Six Russians died in Uganda in 2005 as an An-12 fell to the ground in a forest area, 30 kilometres from the capital Kampala.

In 2004, the crew of another An-12 asked Sudanese flight control officers for permission to make an emergency landing and then the aircraft disappeared from the radars. Debris from the plane was found scattered over a large area. Four Russian pilots died.

In November 2003 a Sudanese cargo plane caught fire and exploded while preparing to land at a southern airport, killing all 13 people aboard.

In Angola in 2002 An-12 with 30 people on board went down on a residential area, destroying two buildings. Half of the passengers onboard died.

In 2001, the failure of one of the engines caused An-12 to crash in Central Russia, Tver region, again soon after the take off, killing crew members.

And another accident happened in 1998 in Siberia, Krasnoyarsk region, claiming lives of 13 people.