27 September 2016
Mum Among 50 People “Unlawfully Killed” by Airline’s Failings
An inquest into an air accident that resulted in tragedy at Kazan Airport in 2013 has today revealed the truth of the catastrophic failings of the airline and the local regulatory authorities in the Republic of Tatarstan, which led to the deaths of 50 people.
Donna Bull, a mother of two from Cambridge, was among 50 people who were tragically killed in an air accident as a Boeing 727 hit the ground upon its second attempt at landing and caught fire at Kazan airport in Tatarstan.
Ms Bull was a member of staff at Bellerbys College in Cambridge. She had flown from the UK to Moscow earlier in the day to meet a colleague, with whom she flew to Kazan for a 10-day marketing trip.
All 44 passengers and the six crew members were killed, with reports revealing the plane lost altitude in its second landing attempt.
This tragedy was caused by a confluence of scandal. The two crew members flying the aircraft were employed by the airline as engineers; they were inadequately trained and not properly qualified. The training they had received was not sufficient to achieve the appropriate licenses to fly commercial aircraft and the staff employed to examine them for the purpose of obtaining those licenses were, themselves, not properly qualified to make that assessment.
The commercial flight certificate supposedly granted to the pilot had been fabricated.
Tatarstan Airlines was suffering from financial difficulties, which meant that proper and necessary simulator training was not available and thus, when faced with the difficulties on landing on the day in question, the pilots simply had no idea what to do.
This extraordinarily perilous situation was compounded by systemic violations of mandatory rest periods, resulting in the crew working more than 75 per cent in excess of permitted hours, leading to extreme fatigue.
In addition, the air traffic control staff were themselves inadequately trained, due to deficiencies in the training systems in place at Kazan Airport. This absence of training led to there being no notification made of inclement weather on the day in question.
It was surely only a matter of time before a tragedy such as this befell them, leading to the loss of a much loved mother.
Following the inquest, a verdict of unlawful killing was returned, with the coroner stating that, had it occurred in this country, it would be akin to gross negligence manslaughter.
It is of scant solace that Tatarstan Airlines operating license was revoked on 31 December 2013. I hope now other airlines will take heed of what happened on that awful day and ensure this never happens again.
Read Donna Bull’s family’s statement here.
Kieran Mitchell is instructed by the family of Ms Bull. He is a travel and international litigation solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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