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Russian aviation bodies at odds over Boeing 737 safety fears
8 November 2015

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsiya, and  Interstate Aviation Committee are at odds over the safety of Boeing 737 aircraft operating for Russian carriers, with the latter suspending the type certificate.

Safety fears emerged during the investigation by the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) into the causes of an accident on November 17, 2013 involving a Boeing 737-500 operated by Tatarstan Airlines. The aircraft crashed during a go around at Kazan, Russia when it entered a steep climb, followed by a steep descent and impact with terrain. All fifty on board were killed.

According to an IAC statement, the Rosaviatsiya representatives in the Commission of Inquiry “repeatedly raised the issue that the probable cause of the accident was a failure of the elevator control system”. Rosaviatsiya reportedly reiterated their position even though IAC was not able to confirm this as the probable cause of the accident in their draft report, based on extensive studies.

On this basis, the Commission of Inquiry officially appealed to IAC with information about the position of Rosaviatsiya. Since IAC includes the ‘Aviation Register’ department, responsible for certification, IAC sent a request to the US Federal Aviation Administration (being the initial certification body for the Boeing 737 aircraft) to confirm compliance with the requirements of the aircraft for safe operation. Given the lack of concrete actions by Rosaviatsiya within its competence to impose restrictions on the operation of the Boeing 737, IAC stated that it felt forced to suspend the Boeing 737 type certificate on November 5. However, a decision for an actual grounding of these aircraft, would be up to the regulator, Rosaviatsiya.

Acting surprised by IAC’s move, Rosaviatsiya initiated a meeting on November 6 to discuss the matter with the airlines involved, Boeing and a representative from IAC. In a statement on it’s website, Rosaviatsiya reported that it did not have all underlying documents pertaining to the accident investigation and thus was not able to decide upon any kind of safety action.

The meeting was unanimous, according to Rosaviatsiya, in the fact that at present there are no grounds for termination of operation of the Boeing 737 aircraft within Russia.