A plane crash that killed members of a Russian professional hockey club happened because a pilot applied brakes during takeoff, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency reported Wednesday, citing investigators.
Forty-four people, including crew members and dozens of international and Russian players with the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey club, died as a result of the September 7 crash outside Yaroslavl, Russia. A crew member is the sole survivor.
The club, which included several former National Hockey League players, was bound for Minsk, Belarus, where the team was to play the next day.
One of the pilots appears to have inadvertently pressed on a brake pedal while pulling on the control yoke during takeoff, said Alexey Morozov, chairman of Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee’s technical commission.
Because of the braking, the Yak-42 plane didn’t have enough speed at takeoff, Morozov said, according to RIA-Novosti.
The aircraft collided with the antenna of an airport beacon, fell to the ground and broke into several pieces and caught fire, the nation’s aviation ministry told CNN in September.
The plane was in good order, and “no failures in the operation of the airplane and the engines were found,” Morozov said, according to the state-run Itar-Tass news agency.
The IAC, which investigates aviation accidents in nations from the former Soviet Union, determined that a lack of pilot training was one of the factors that contributed to the wreck, RIA-Novosti reported.
The IAC’s report will be taken into account in a criminal investigation into who bears responsibility, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Tuesday, according to the nongovernmental Moscow-based Interfax news agency.
Some of those on Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's roster had ties to the National Hockey League, which has teams in the United States and Canada. The former NHL players included Pavol Demitra, a former Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks center from Slovakia, and Josef Vasicek, from the Czech Republic, who had played with the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes. Another Lokomotiv player, Ruslan Salei from Belarus, had skated for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings.
Yaroslavl Lokomotiv head coach Brad McCrimmon, a Canadian who also died in the crash, also had played in the NHL and had been a Red Wings assistant coach.
One of the 44 who died, hockey player Alexander Galimov, survived for days but eventually died of severe burns, according to a hospital that treated him.