A report from the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) in Russia has blamed human error for a September plane crash which claimed the lives of 43 people, mostly from the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team.
Officials discovered one of two pilots activated the brakes on the Russian-made, three-engine Yak-42 by accident during take-off, fatally slowing the aircraft.
Thirty-six players and members of staff from the team were killed immediately, along with several crew members.
Autopsies on the bodies of the pilots found the co-pilot had Phenobarbital — a depressant that can slow reaction times — in his system.
However, investigators were unable to identify which of the two pilots had pushed the breaks.
It was also noted both pilots were more experienced flying Yak-40 aircraft than Yak-42s, which has a different control configuration.
“Test pilots established in a flight experiment an erroneous pushing of the brake pedals during takeoff is possible only if the pilot’s feet are placed by mistake on the braking floor,” said Aleksei Morozov, who led a team investigating the crash for the IAC.
“Even a slight pressure on the pedals may have been overlooked by the pilot.”
The plane crashed shortly after leaving the runway at an airport near Yaroslavl, 160 miles northeast of Moscow.
Following the crash, president Dmitry Medvedev called for the grounding of unsafe airlines in Russia.