Moscow, Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced one day National mourning over the tragic crash of TU-154 that caused death of all 92 passengers and crew on board.
Tu-154 was carrying official choir of Russian Armed Forces “Alexandrov Ensemble” to a concert at a Russian air base in Syria to celebrate New Year eve.
Renowned Russian humanitarian activist Elizaveta Glinka (Dr. Liza) is among dead, claimed Russian media.
Tupolev 154B-2 popularly known as Tu-154 having the registration number RA-85572 had its first flight in 1983 flown to 6689 hours before it destroyed when it impacted the waters of the Black Sea shortly after takeoff from Adler/Sochi Airport on December 25, 2016.
Today’s crash is the second deadliest crash of Tu-154 this decade as deceased Polish President Lech Kaczynski died along with 96 top officials on April 10, 2010 when his Tu-154 was landing at Smolensk airfield.
“The ill-fated Tu-154 took off from runway number 20 at 05:25 hours local time. During climb-out, the aircraft made a U-turn back towards the coastline and disappeared off radar screens”, reported Russian news agency.
It may be mentioned that Tupolev Tu-154 is a three-engine medium-range narrow-body airliner designed in the mid-1960s and manufactured by Tupolev and it is under the use as head-of-states transport by the air forces of several Eastern European and Central Asian countries.
With a cruising speed of 975 kilometres per hour (606 mph), the Tu-154 is one of the fastest civilian aircraft in use and has a range of 5,280 kilometres (3,280 mi). Capable of operating from unpaved and gravel airfields with only basic facilities, it is widely used in the extreme weather conditions and on rough landing strips.
Russian flag carrier Aeroflot announced the retirement of its Tu-154 fleet in January 2010 after using this aircraft for 40 years. Since 1968 there have been 40 fatal incidents involving the Tu-154.
The last serial Tu-154 was delivered to the Russian Defense Ministry on 19 February 2013 from the Aviakor factory, equipped with upgraded avionics, a VIP interior and a communications suite.