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Monday, August 28, 2006

Thinking of Flying Russian Airlines? Think Again . . .

Global Voices translates Russian blogs on the recent spate of air disasters in Russia:

Papa was gone. But he did have a premonition… On July 15, two weeks before the crash, on the 30th anniversary of [my parents’] wedding, when they were at a restaurant, he suddenly began speaking about it, about his death: what would need to be done, how he would like to see it. Mama interrupted him, but he managed to continue with this topic.

It’s true that their equipment was on the verge [of collapse]. The crashed IL-86 RA-86060 was made in 1983 and had flown 18,370 hours - and this type of plane can be used for 20 years. Only the so-called human factor was capable of dealing with problems arising in the air, not vice versa, as is commonly believed. How many times he spoke of those problems!

One of the scariest episodes happened during the flight over the ocean, from New York, USA, to Shannon, Ireland. It was a miracle that they reached their destination, they did it [manually], because the navigation broke down and they were going blind. He didn’t worry for his life, but for the lives of 350 passengers behind him.

He used to say: “I’ll go quickly… I’ll crash… I’ll be shown on TV… Your children will be proud of their heroic grandfather!” And this is what did happen. LR: I thought she just said he cared deeply about his passengers . . .

He promised to bring mama a bouquet of exactly 30 flowers from Sochi, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their wedding. They must have been gladioli… Here, they aren’t as beautiful, and they are expensive, too…

I was there, at the site of the air catastrophe, in the fall of 2002… I wanted to see it… By that time, I was prepared to see it. It is so close to the airport. The snow covered all the horror a little and only a modest cross stood over the dug-up part of the field and the forest. The ground still smelled of kerosene, and there were still torn pieces of metal underneath my feet. And above my head, very low, flew the planes… Up and down… I’ll never be able to forget this.

Another account:

Do you know what a pilot’s life is worth in our country? Because, it turns out, pilots are insured! The whole $3,000 received each family of the dead pilots, regardless of the number of people in these families. And do you know how much the company received for the plane - because it was insured as well? Two million dollars, which is twice as much as the plane’s remaining cost. So it’s a very profitable business to lose a plane! Well, they also had to pay the pilots’ salaries to the relatives, as [the law] requires, but it’s incomparably less than the profit they received, isn’t it!

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