An Antonov An-148 regional passenger jet of Saratov Airlines crashed in Moscow region on February 11. The aircraft, Flight No. 703, departed from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport at 14:21, Moscow time and was heading to Orsk in Orenburg region. It carried 65 passengers and six crew members.
According to Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, the aircraft crashed in Ramenskiy district, southeast of Moscow. Emergency response services were sent to the crash site.
Prior to the crash the aircraft disappeared from the radar screens. This occurred minutes after the take-off, at 14:28 Moscow time.
The aircraft in question, RA-61704, was manufactured in 2010 by Voronezh Aircraft Production Association in Russia in cooperation with Ukraine’s Antonov. It was earlier operated by Rossiya Airlines and has been subleased to Saratov since February 2017. The carrier says the aircraft underwent a C-Check in January 2018, including the inspection of the engines, fuselage, and wing. Another inspection was conducted on February 11, prior to the departure of Fight 703. The aircraft had made three more flights on the same day: Penza-Moscow, Moscow-Saratov, and Saratov-Moscow.
Saratov Airlines reported on February 12 that it had temporarilyy grounded its entire fleet of An-148s. Besides RA-61704, the carrier has another five jets of this type, all subleased from Rossiya. Late last year the carrier gained maximum clearance to perform the full range of maintenance operations of the type.
In 2017, due in part to fleet expansion, Saratov Airlines managed to increase its traffic by 58% to 796,400 passengers (19th position among the largest Russian carriers).
Apart from Saratov, two more Russian carriers operate An-148s. Irkutsk-based Angara has four; the government air operator has six airframes.
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