16 people died and seven were injured in a plane crash near Menzelinsk in Tatarstan, Russia. The accident occurred on October 10, 2021, when a Let L-410 Turbolet, carrying 23 people on board, suffered an in-flight engine problem while on a takeoff, then lost height and hit the ground.
According to the initial investigation, pilots asked for permission to return to Menzelinsk airfield (UWPK), but unfortunately, the aircraft lost altitude shortly after. Its wing impacted with the edge of the trees and the plane crashed upon a segment of concrete wall and a pile of logs. The tail of the aircraft was the only part that remained undamaged.
Units of the Menzelin fire and rescue garrison saved the lives of seven survivors, all of them severely injured. The remaining 16 people, including both flight crew, were killed. The injured people were taken to hospitals in Naberezhnye Chelny and Kazan, the media outlet Interfax.ru reported. Reacting to the accident, President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov ordered authorities to assist families of those who had been killed and injured in the crash.
On October 11, 2021, the Central Interregional Investigation Directorate for Transport of the Investigative Committee of Russia initiated a criminal case.
“A criminal case was opened under Part 3 of Art. 263 of the Criminal Code regarding violation of traffic safety rules and operation of air transport, resulting in the death of two or more persons by negligence. […] The maximum penalty for this article provides five years of imprisonment. […] Currently, pre-flight documentation is being seized, eyewitnesses of the tragedy are being questioned,“ the committee told local media.
The cause of the accident has not been officially determined yet. However, one of the possible reasons for the plane crash could be overload, since the twin-engine L-410 Turbolet, which had been in operation since 1987 and was used to operate flights for the Air Force of USSR before it was transferred to DOSAAF, is designed to nominally transport up to 19 people.
The state-run Russian training facility, Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, announced it has suspended any cooperation with the Menzelinsk flying club until an investigation will identify the cause of the aircraft crash. Meanwhile, the owner of the plane DOSAAF halted all operations with planes of the L-410 type.
The recent crash comes as the second accident of L-410 aircraft in Russia in 2021. On September 12, 2021, another airplane of the type made a hard landing in the taiga near Irkutsk. As a result of the accident, four out of 16 people on board died including the pilot, while 11 people were hospitalized. The ongoing investigation considers two versions of what could cause the crash: it might be a failure of equipment or a maneuvering error of the flight crew.