Saratov Airlines Flight 703

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Saratov Airlines Flight 703
A bright-orange-coloured passenger jet about to land
RA-61704, the aircraft involved in the crash, seen in May 2017
Date 11 February 2018 (2018-02-11)
Summary Loss of control in flight due to icing conditions
Site near Stepanovskoye, Moscow Oblast
55°17′59″N 38°23′25″E / 55.29972°N 38.39028°E / 55.29972; 38.39028Coordinates: 55°17′59″N 38°23′25″E / 55.29972°N 38.39028°E / 55.29972; 38.39028
Aircraft type Antonov An-148-100B
Operator Saratov Airlines
IATA flight No. 6W703
ICAO flight No. SOV703
Call sign Saratov Air 703
Registration RA-61704
Flight origin Moscow Domodedovo Airport, Moscow, Russia
Destination Orsk Airport, Orsk, Russia
Occupants 71
Passengers 65
Crew 6
Fatalities 71
Survivors 0

Saratov Airlines Flight 703 was a domestic passenger flight from Moscow Domodedovo Airport to Orsk Airport in Russia. On 11 February 2018, the aircraft serving the flight, an Antonov An-148-100B, crashed shortly after take-off, killing all 71 people on board — 65 passengers and six crew members.


The aircraft involved in the accident was an Antonov An-148-100B built by Voronezh Aircraft Production Association,[1] registration RA-61704, MSN 27015040004, powered by two Progress D-436 engines. It first flew in May 2010 and was delivered to Rossiya Airlines in June 2010. It had been involved in two previous minor incidents in service; an engine was shut down on 28 July 2013 after it surged in flight, and it suffered a nose wheel failure on take-off on 23 August 2013. The aircraft had been leased to Saratov Airlines since February 2017, a year prior to the crash.[2]


Flight route of Saratov Airlines Flight 703

The flight was a regularly scheduled domestic passenger service from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport to Orsk Airport in Orsk, a city near the border of Kazakhstan, operated by Russian regional carrier Saratov Airlines. The scheduled departure time from Moscow was 14:00.[3] Flight 703 took off from Moscow at around 14:21.[2][4]

Several minutes after taking off from Moscow, the aircraft's speed and altitude started to fluctuate. Moments before the crash, Flight 703 had gained an altitude of 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) and an airspeed of 600 kilometres per hour (320 kn). It then lost altitude rapidly until it disappeared from the radar at an altitude of around 900 metres (3,000 ft).[3]

The aircraft crashed near the villages of Argunovo and Stepanovskoye in Ramensky District of Moscow Oblast.[5][6] The accident occurred at 14:27 local time (11:27 UTC), six minutes after take-off from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.[2][7] According to a source inside the investigation, a few minutes before the crash the pilot of the aircraft told air traffic controllers about a malfunction, and that he planned to make an emergency landing at Zhukovsky. This report was later dismissed by the investigation committee.[8] Eyewitnesses reported that the aircraft was in flames during its descent to ground.[9] The crash was caught by a surveillance camera in a nearby house. The footage showed that the aircraft slammed into the ground, and immediately burst into flames.[10]

The Russian prosecutor's office launched criminal proceedings for suspected violations of air traffic safety rules. It found reports that the airline had been banned from operating international routes in 2015, and that these had resumed after a change in policy in 2016. The Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Transport (Rostransnadzor) stated that during its examination on the accident aircraft, the airline had violated the procedure for changing oil in the gearboxes, and the procedure for washing the air starter filter.[11]

Passengers and crew

According to the flight manifest, Flight 703 was carrying 65 passengers and 6 crew members. Most of the passengers were residents of Orenburg. The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations said that all but two of the passengers were Russian citizens. One of the foreign passengers was Azerbaijani while the other was Swiss.[12][5][6][13][14] Everybody on board was killed.[15][16][17] Rescue workers reached the site 2.5 hours after the crash.[7]

The captain was a 51-year-old Russian named Valery Gubanov who had accumulated 5,000 hours of total flying experience, of which 2,800 were on the Antonov An-148, but only 58 hours as pilot in command. His medical certificate had expired two days before the accident.[18] The Russian first officer Sergei Gambaryan was 35 years old.[12]

Passengers and crew of Flight 703[19][20]
Nationality Passengers Crew Total
Russia 63 6 69
Azerbaijan 1 0 1
Switzerland 1 0 1
Total 65 6 71


Altitude and speed of Saratov Airlines Flight 703
The crash site of Flight 703

The Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) opened an investigation into the accident.[21] President Vladimir Putin also set up a special commission to investigate the crash. Within the first few hours of the investigation, the Ministry of Transport announced two theories regarding the crash — weather conditions and human factors.[14]

The wreckage of Flight 703 was scattered over a wide area. Officials stated that the radius of the crash site area was about one kilometer, which added suspicion that the aircraft possibly had disintegrated in mid-flight. Since a witness stated it was in flames during its descent, a bomb theory was put forward by several investigators.[10] Both flight recorders (the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder) were found on 12 February.[22][23]

Saratov Airlines' documents related to the aircraft were impounded as part of the routine investigation. The crash has also caused the Russian Emergency Ministry to discuss whether all Antonov An-148s should be grounded temporarily. Personnel at Moscow Domodedovo Airport were also interviewed.[24]

Russian news agency Rambler News Service (RNS) reported that the pilot of Flight 703 had declined to have the aircraft de-iced before the departure.[25] According to a METAR weather report, the weather at 11:00 included snow showers and a temperature of −5 °C at Domodedovo Airport.[26]

On 13 February, the IAC reported that initial analysis of data from the flight data recorder showed that the pitot tube heaters were not turned on and there were discrepancies in the airspeeds being displayed to the pilots, with one airspeed indicator showing increasing airspeed, one showing decreasing airspeed and the third showing no airspeed. The data also showed that the aircraft was under manual control when it pitched nose down some 30° below the horizontal and remained in that attitude until it impacted the ground.[26] The first officer tried to stop sharp descent, but failed to persuade the captain of the loss of control.[18]

On 27 June 2019, the IAC reported that the crash, during climb in instrument meteorological conditions, was caused by the crew's erroneous reactions to unreliable airspeed indications caused by ice blockages of all three pitot probes, which led to the loss of control of the aircraft’s flight dynamics resulting in a dive and collision with the ground.[27]


A crisis centre was set up at Orsk Airport, where relatives of the victims were transported. Monday, 12 February was designated as a day of mourning by the Orenburg government.[28][29] The head of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Maxim Topilin, stated that all relatives of the victims would be given 2 million rubles (about US$35,000) each.[citation needed] President Vladimir Putin cancelled his planned trip to Sochi in response to the disaster. The government stated that he would coordinate with the special commission he had set up.[30]

On 12 February, Saratov Airlines suspended all An-148 flights as well as all of its flights to Orsk.[31][32] Saratov Airlines resumed An-148 flights on 16 February after carrying out technical inspections of all An-148s in its fleet.[33] On 20 March, Rostransnadzor suspended all flights by Saratov Airlines after further violations of rules were discovered.[26] On 1 June 2018 Saratov Airlines' air operator's certificate was revoked because of violations of the regulations.[34]

See also


  1. ^ "71 feared dead as Russian plane crashes near Moscow". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "RA-61704 Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b ""Коммерсантъ" назвал возможные причины крушения Ан-148" (in Russian). Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Saratov Airlines Flight 703 Crashed Outside of Moscow". FlightRadar24. 11 February 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Plane with 71 on board goes missing after taking off from Moscow". Russia: RT. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  6. ^ a b Luhn, Alec; Rothwell, James (11 February 2018). "71 feared dead as Russian plane crashes near Moscow". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b "V Rusku se zřítilo letadlo se 71 lidmi, nehodu nikdo nepřežil" [In Russia, an airplane crashed with 71 people, no one survived the accident] (in Czech). Zprávy-Idnes. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Разбившийся Ан-148 шел на аварийную посадку. LIVE" ["The terrorist act can not be ruled out": the An-148 crashed. LIVE]. Газета.Ru (in Russian). Gazeta. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  9. ^ Taylor, Rebecca. "All 71 on crashed Russian plane are killed". Sky News. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Опубликовано видео крушения Ан-148 в Подмосковье" (in Russian). Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  11. ^ "СК возбудил дело после крушения Ан-148 в Подмосковье". РИА Новости (in Russian). 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b "У командира упавшего Ана было пять тысяч часов налета" (in Russian). Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  13. ^ "Московская межрегиональная транспортная прокуратура проводит проверку в связи с падением самолета" [Moscow interregional transport prosecutor's office conducts an inspection in connection with the fall of the aircraft] (in Russian). Moscow interregional transport prosecutor's office. 11 February 2018. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Interfax News". Interfax. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Russian jet 'crashes' after Moscow take-off". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Russian Jet Crashes Near Moscow, All 71 Aboard Feared Dead". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  17. ^ Josephs, Matt; Clinch, Leslie (11 February 2018). "Russian airliner crashes near Moscow, killing all 71 people on board". CNBC. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  18. ^ a b "СМИ: пилот разбившегося Ан-148 ругался с командиром из-за снижения самолета - Новости Саратова". Новости Саратова (in Russian). 18 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  19. ^ "Список пассажиров и членов экипажа самолета Ан-148 рейса 6W703 "Домодедово –Орск"". Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  20. ^ "Who were the victims of the Russia crash?". BBC. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Ан-148-100B RA-61704 11.02.2018" [Аn-148-100B RA-61704 11 February 2018] (in Russian). Interstate Aviation Committee. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  22. ^ "Найден первый "черный ящик" разбившегося в Подмосковье Ан-148". РБК. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Interfax news ". Interfax. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  24. ^ "Что известно о крушении Ан-148 в Подмосковье" (in Russian). BBC Russian. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  25. ^ "RNS: Ан-148 перед полетом не прошел обработку от обледенения" (in Russian). Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  26. ^ a b c "Crash: Saratov A148 at Moscow on Feb 11th 2018, lost height after departure, pitot heatings off". Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  28. ^ "Разбившимся Ан-148 управлял опытный пилот" (in Russian). RIA-Novosti. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  29. ^ "Авиакатастрофа под Москвой: хроника событий" (in Russian). BBC Russian. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  30. ^ "В Подмосковье разбился пассажирский самолет Ан-148. Хроника". Novaya Gazeta. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  31. ^ ""Саратовские авиалинии" приостановили эксплуатацию самолетов Ан-148". Meduza (in Russian). Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  32. ^ Ведомости (12 February 2018). ""Ижавиа" временно заменит "Саратовские авиалинии" на маршруте Москва – Орск". Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  33. ^ ""Саратовские авиалинии" возобновили полеты Ан-148". РБК. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  34. ^ "Russia suspends AOC for Saratov Airlines". Retrieved 2 June 2018.

External links

  • Ан-148-100B RA-61704 11.02.2018 — Interstate Aviation Committee - Russian version
  • List of passengers and crew of Antonov An-148 flight 6W703 Domodedovo — Orsk — EMERCOM
  • Jet crash in Ramenskoye District, Moscow Region — EMERCOM
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