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The plane was manufactured in 1983 and had 6,689 hours of flight. "The last repair was on December 29, 2014, and in September 2016 it underwent scheduled maintenance," the ministry said, according to Tass.
The ministry identified the pilot as Roman Volkov, who it said was a "class 1 pilot" with more than 3,000 flying hours..
The Russian Investigation Committee has launched a routine criminal investigation to examine potential "violation of rules of flight safety or preparation," committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko told Tass. The committee plans to seize documents and interrogate those who prepared the plane for flight, she added.
An audio recording played on Russian media and said to be of the final conversation between air traffic controllers and the plane reveals no sign of any difficulties being faced by the crew.
Voices remain calm until the plane disappears and the controllers try in vain to re-establish contact.
Reports from the area said flying conditions were favorable.
Russia's transport minister says investigators are looking into an "entire spectrum'' of possible reasons the crash occurred, including the possibility of a terror attack.
Earlier, a Russian official had downplayed any suggestion of a terror attack
Russia has been carrying out air strikes in support of Syrian government forces who are battling rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A Tu-154, operated by Siberian Airlines, was shot down over the Black Sea in October 2001, killing 78 people.
The plane was travelling from Tel Aviv in Israel to Novosibirsk in Russia, and most of the passengers were Israeli.
The Ukrainian military initially denied involvement but officials later admitted the plane could have been hit accidentally during a training exercise..
Around 3,000 people are involved in a search and rescue operation in the 10.5 square kilometer area, the defense ministry announced. The 24/7 operation is being conducted by 32 vessels with over 100 divers on board, unmanned flying vehicles, and five helicopters, officials announced. Head of the Russian Transport Ministry Maksim Sokolov said that so far the rescue workers have found no survivors from the Tu-154 crash
Meanwhile, officials are not considering a terrorist act to have been the prime cause of the incident, a security source told Interfax. It added that the crashed plane was initially supposed to refuel in the city of Mozdok, North Ossetia, but due to bad weather redirected to the airport at the Black Sea coast resort of Adler.
"So, no one knew beforehand that the plane will make a stopover" in Adler, the source said. After landing the aircraft was guarded until it departed for Syria.
could a birdstrike make parts fall off
originally posted by: Zaphod58
There are reports that a man near the coast, where the aircraft came down, was injured by falling debris, suggesting at at least part of the aircraft separated in flight.
The pilot was pilot 1st rank Roman Volkov. He had more than 3,000 hours flight time, and the crew on this aircraft had flown to Syria several times, in this particular aircraft, escorting fighter aircraft to the Russian base there.