Russian accident investigators appear to be focusing on possible failures in the thrust reversers and/or brakes of a Red Wings Airlines Tupolev Tu-204 airliner that crashed into a Moscow highway after overshooting a runway at Vnukovo Airport on December 29. The aircraft was on a ferry flight from Pardubice in the Czech Republic with no passengers. Five of the eight crewmembers on board were killed, including the captain, first officer, flight engineer and two flight attendants.
Speaking soon after the accident, which happened at 4:35 p.m. local time, Yuri Busedin, a colonel with Russia’s emergencies ministry, mentioned early indications of engine failure or fire. However, Russian officials are also considering the parallels with an incident on December 21 when another Red Wings Tu-204 overshot a runway in Siberia. This prompted civil aviation authority Rosaviatsiya to issue a directive ordering manufacturer Aviastar-SP to check for possible flaws in the airliner’s brakes and thrust reversers.
A video taken from a car passing the airport at the time of the December 29 accident shows how the aircraft crashed through a concrete barricade about 1,000 feet past the end of Runway 19. Snow had fallen before the accident and a strong crosswind–reported as 280 at 16 knots gusting 29 knots–is considered a factor in the accident because the airport’s Runway 6/24 was closed at the time.
The Tu-204 resembles a Boeing 757 but weighs about 25,000 pounds less.