Russian PM Orders Deputy to Lead Flight Safety Reform Efforts

Russia's prime minister on Thursday ordered Vice-Premier Sergei Ivanov to take charge of efforts to improve flight safety following three major crashes involving Russian passenger jets or airports in recent months.

"We must now make decisions and take active measures," Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said during a Cabinet meeting. "We cannot wait for the next tragedy."

With the Transport Ministry due to submit flight safety a proposal for government consideration Friday, Fradkov ordered Ivanov, who is also Defense Minister, to lead the effort. The measures are to involve both civilian and military flights, Russian news agencies reported.

Some of Fradkov's comments were broadcast prominently on state-run television, in an effort to assure Russians that the government is taking action in response to the crashes.

Fradkov said that work on developing ways improve safety "must be conducted in an open manner, because people want to know the situation," RIA-Novosti reported.

A Tu-154 jet belonging to Russia's Pulkovo Airlines crashed in Ukraine last week after encountering a storm, killing all 170 people aboard.

An Airbus A-310 of the Russian airline S7 skidded off a runway and burst into flames in the Siberian city of Irkutsk in July, killing 124 people, and an A-320 of the Armenian airline Armavia crashed into the Black Sea while trying to land in the Russian resort city of Sochi in rough weather in May, killing all 113 people aboard.

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