Substitute Pilot at Controls in Crash Tu-134 on Friday:

A plane and  that crashed while trying to land in  at ’s capital, killing 44 of the 52 people on board, were provided by a U.S.-affiliated  as a replacement for a smaller jet after too many passengers bought tickets.

The pilot rejected instructions from the air traffic controller to abort the landing just before midnight Monday on the flight from Moscow’s , moments before the Tu-134 jet rammed into a highway and soon after exploded into what an eyewitness described as “a pillar of fire.”

Local residents managed to pull eight people out of the  before the blaze, including a mother and her two children, aged 9 and 14.

At least nine foreigners, including a Florida-based family of four, were among those who died in the crash.

  indicated that pilot error was to blame, drawing a comparison to the crash of a Polish presidential plane in thick fog in the  last year.

The Moscow-Petrozavodsk flight was initially supposed to be operated by the RusLine airline on a , which has 50 seats. But too many people bought tickets, so RusLine called in RusAir to handle the flight with a 66-seat Tu-134 on Friday, RusLine spokeswoman Svetlana Yakovleva said by telephone.

Source a 4 The Moscow Times

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