Tu-154 airplane (RA-85572) of the Russian Ministry of Defence crashed in the Black Sea on 25th December, at approx. 2:40 AM (GMT). The plane was carrying 84 passengers and 8 crew members. 

The plane was making a flight from Moscow to the air base Khmeimim in Syria with a re-fueling stop in Mozdok (North Ossetia, Russia). However due to poor weather conditions the plane had to re-fuel near the Russian city of Sochi. 

According to Russian authorities, the plane crashed several kilometers off shore, the plane’s wreckage was found at a depth of 50-70 meters. Preliminary, technical malfunctions and pilot error are considered as two main possible reasons of the crash.

Tu-154 was carrying 64 members of Alexandrov Ensemble, official army choir of the Russian armed forces, 9 media and 1 humanitarian organization representatives, 10 accompanying staff and 8 crew members. The rescue team is reported to have already found first bodies. 

Image of the Tu-154 posted prior to the departure from Moscow by Evgeny Tolstov, one of NTV media members on board the crashed plane

Tu-154 is a three-engine medium-range narrow-body airliner designed in the mid-1960s and manufactured by Tupolev. A workhorse of Soviet and (subsequently) Russian airlines for several decades, it carried half of all passengers flown by Aeroflot and its subsidiaries, remaining the standard domestic-route airliner of Russia and former Soviet states until the mid-2000s. In January 2010, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot announced the retirement of its Tu-154 fleet after 40 years. 

Since 1968 there have been 39 fatal incidents involving Tu-154, most of which were caused either by factors unrelated to the aircraft, or by its extensive use in demanding conditions.