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Aeroflot Cancels, Delays Some Superjet Flights In Wake Of Deadly Plane Crash

A Superjet 100 on a test flight over Italy
A Superjet 100 on a test flight over Italy

MOSCOW -- Aeroflot has canceled or delayed more than a half-dozen flights that used the Sukhoi Superjet, days after 41 people were killed in a crash-landing at a Moscow airport.

Three Minsk-bound flights were delayed on May 8 due to unspecified technical problems with the jets, and a flight to Rostov-on-Don was canceled due to a broken steering position indicator. Passengers were later flown to the southern city aboard a Boeing jet.

On May 7, a Superjet flight from Moscow to Riga was delayed by three hours after passengers complained of a burning smell and demanded a different plane, according to the news agency BNS.

The Interfax news agency, meanwhile, reported on May 8 that Superjet flights from Moscow to Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, and the Swedish city of Goteborg had also been canceled, according to flight departure boards at Sheremetyevo airport.

The newspaper RBK said 11 flights had been canceled or delayed at Sheremetyevo as of the evening of May 8.

Aeroflot did not immediately comment on the number of cancelations or delays.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused a Murmansk-bound Superjet on May 5 to make an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo less than an hour after taking off. The jet burst into flames after it made a hard landing, killing 41 of the 78 people on board.

One of the pilots, and several passengers, have been reported as saying that the jet was struck by lightning while in the air.

Aeroflot has long shed its troubled post-Soviet safety record, with its fleet relying mainly on Boeing and Airbus aircraft. However, the state-owned company also owns at least 50 Superjets that it operates on both domestic and international routes.

Manufactured by the state conglomerate United Aircraft Corp., the Superjet is a midrange regional jet, conceived of as a way to bolster the country’s civil aviation manufacturing industry in the face of competition from Boeing and Airbus, as well as Embraer and Bombardier.

The jet has seen a series of problems since its launch in 2011, and Russia has struggled to convince foreign airlines to purchase it.

Since the crash, there have been a growing number of calls to ground all Superjets nationwide. Transport Minister Yevgeny Ditrikh has said there's no reason to ground the planes pending the outcome of the investigation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "only the competent aviation authorities" would be able to make a decision to ground the plane.

With reporting by AFP