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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Levitin Outlines Proposals to Improve Aviation Safety

Itar-TassTransportation Minister Igor Levitin
OTTAWA -- Russia is developing a formal plan to boost aviation safety in the wake of three crashes last year that killed hundreds of people, Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said Tuesday. Critics variously blame the disasters on poor training, often outdated planes and sometimes primitive infrastructure.

"In the first half of this year, Russia will draw up a state program on flight safety," Levitin said during an official visit to Canada, saying Moscow wanted to improve pilot training and might also buy modern equipment.

In July 2006, an Airbus A310 operated by S7 Airlines crashed at Irkutsk airport, killing 125 passengers and crew. The initial accident report blamed the crew.

In August, a Tupolev Tu-154 flown by Pulkovo airlines crashed in Ukraine, killing all 170 people on board. In May, all 113 people on board an Armenian Airbus A320 died when it crashed near the Black Sea resort of Sochi in southern Russia.

"Of course the two crashes [in Russia] were a big tragedy but as a whole, in 2005 and 2006, there were a series of major air disasters all over the world," Levitin said.

Last November, Levitin asked Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to approve the sacking of Valery Saleyev, who heads the country's overall transportation watchdog. Fradkov has yet to make a decision on the matter.

Levitin said he would give more details of Russia's safety plan to the head of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal on Wednesday.