MOSCOW Ė A Russian passenger jet crash that killed all 71 people on board could have been caused by a fault in the aircraftís speed sensors resulting in erroneous information being relayed to the cockpit, the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) said Tuesday.
In a statement, the committee said a preliminary analysis of black box data made them believe that the pilotsí screens were showing the wrong speed as the velocity sensors had frozen because the heating systems on three pressure gauges were disconnected.
The data suggested that divergences in the data on the pilot and co-pilotís screens began showing two minutes and thirty seconds after the plane took off.
According to the MAK, the pilotís speedometer showed the craft was traveling at 800 kilometers per hour (500mph) while the co-pilotís showed 0kph.
Experts must now study cockpit recordings to try and establish the pilotsí actions.
An exhaustive analysis of the pressure gaugesí heating systems on planes of the same model is also to be carried out.
The twin-engined Antonov AN-148 model belonging to the Saratov regional carrier departed Moscowís Domodedovo Airport on Sunday afternoon carrying 65 passengers and six crewmembers en route to the southern city of Orsk before it came down just 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast outside the capital, near the village of Argunovo.
The plane is believed to have been fully intact until the moment of impact, when it exploded and strewed wreckage across the snowy field in which it crashed.