Russian federal investigators are to decide whether to pursue a criminal case against an Antonov An-24 crew after an unauthorised person was permitted to sit at the controls and handle the aircraft during a domestic flight.
The IrAero An-24RV had been operating a service from Batagay-Alyta’s Sakkyryr airport to Yakutsk on 31 August.
Russian air transport regulator Rosaviatsia says it investigated video footage of a woman seated in the first officer’s position with her hands on the control wheel.
It describes the event as a “serious incident” and, having completed its probe, states that the crew of the aircraft (RA-08824) committed a “gross violation” of civil aviation rules.
Rosaviatsia says the crew admitted to the cockpit an individual who was not connected with the operation of the aircraft, and provided this “unauthorised” person with “the ability to control the aircraft during flight”.
“The flight crew’s irresponsible attitude to their official duties jeopardised passengers on board,” adds the regulator.
It states that IrAero exercised “inadequate control” over its crews’ activities and argues that it illustrates weakness in the airline’s safety-management system.
The inquiry also found that an occupant of the aircraft did not have a ticket before the An-24 departed Sakkyryr.
Rosaviatsia says it has submitted the results of its probe to the federal Investigative Committee, in order for it to consider whether to initiate criminal proceedings against the crew.
Russia was the scene of one of air transport’s most notorious fatal accidents, involving an Aeroflot Airbus A310-300 in 1994. The crew lost control of the aircraft after allowing the daughter and son of the relief pilot to handle the control column, resulting in undetected disengagement of the autopilot.