Russian authorities scrutinize Saratov Airlines


Moscow - After the crash of the Antonov An-148, the Russian authorities are taking a close look at Saratov Airlines. The airline doesn't enjoy the best reputation in the country. The company expressed its condolences to the relatives of the victims of Flight 6W703.

A group of 600 people, which consists of experts and volunteers searched further the fields at Stepanovskoye, the southwest of Moscow, for parts of the crashed An-148. They are scattered over an area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 30 hectares. So far, the authorities have found about 500 fragments of the aircraft and 1400 body parts, as the news agency Sputnik reports.

The second black box, which records the voices and sounds in the cockpit, was also found. The first black box had been found on Sunday evening, February 11, the same day when the accident happened.

Lost license once in 2015

On Sunday, the authorities searched the offices of Saratov Airlines. The airline, which was founded in 1994, will now be examined in more detail. According to Russian press reports, the Ministry of Transport and the Rosaviatsiya (Federal Air Transport Agency) discuss the withdrawal of license.

Saratov Airlines operates a fleet of 12 aircraft including four An-148 (after one destroyed yesterday), five Yakovlev Yak-42 and two Embraer ERJ 195. It serves 46 destinations in Russia, Armenia and the Ukraine. According to the news agency Eurasia Daily, the airline operator doesn't enjoy the best reputation. In customer forums, there are many complaints about poor service and low-security standards. Also, Saratov Airlines lost its operating license in 2015 because the CEO's daughter had flown unauthorized in the cockpit.

Was there an explosion?

There is still no conclusive evidence of the cause. Eyewitnesses had seen an explosion under the wing. Also reported by local media yesterday, the pilot had reported technical problems. But it was contradicted by the authorities due to the current state of the investigation.