A UTair ATR-72-200 carrying 39 passengers and 4 crew members on board crashed shortly after an early morning take off from Tyumen Airport in Siberia, April 2nd. The aircraft built in 1992 was conducting a commercial flight to the town of Surgut 400 miles away (650 km). Airborne for only a few minutes, the doomed twin turboprop airliner went down on a snow-covered field located only 2 miles (3 km) from Tyumen airport. The impact apparently dislocated the aircraft fuselage into three sections that immediately erupted in flames. Thirty one of the aircraft occupants were reported killed and another twelve have been hospitalized in serious condition.
Precautionary measures taken by UTair saw the temporary grounding of the sixteen other ATR-72 aircraft in its fleet. The destroyed ATR-72-200 flight recorders were being transferred to Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee in Moscow.
Already reports of improper de-icing of the aircraft prior to taking-off have been reported by AFP. Additional eye witnesses accounts of the plane attempting to return to the airfield with its engines smoking may also preliminarily indicate mechanical malfunctions.
The ATR-42 and ATR-72 aircraft family consists of the shorter ATR-42
and its stretched sibling ATR-72 both built by the Franco-Italian consortium Aerospatiale/Aeritalia. According to aviation-safety database, the ATR-72 which first flew in 1988 and has seen production of more than 261 aircraft has suffered 14 hull losses with the most catastrophic event taking place in Cuba in 2010 and Indiana in 1994 which 68 passengers perished in both cases. The older ATR-42 which first flew in 1984 fared only marginally worse with 24 hull losses among the 365 aircraft produced. The most notorious ATR-42 accidents being that of a Santa Barbara Airline aircraft that killed 46 people in 2008, and the 1994 demise of another Royal Air Maroc aircraft that claimed 44 lives.