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News Briefs, part 2

Russian Crash May Have Been Caused by Teen Playing Pilot

The Washington Post

A Russian-leased passenger jet that crashed in Siberia last month killing all 75 people aboard may have been sent into a nose dive by a teenager playing pilot at the controls, according to unofficial reports here.

There is still no word from Russian aviation investigators on what caused the crash of the French-made Airbus A-310, which was en route from Moscow to Hong Kong March 22 when it suddenly went into a steep descent for at least two minutes before hitting the tundra near the Mongolian border.

But media reports in recent days point to a scenario in which the 15-year-old son of one of the pilots may have been allowed near the controls of the aircraft and could have accidentally disengaged the autopilot by pushing against the control wheel.

"Cockpit voice recorder readings indicated that the youth inadvertently knocked off the autopilot and fell against the control column as his father and other crew members stood behind him," said the English-language newspaper Moscow Times, which ran the most detailed account of the incident. The paper quoted unnamed officials of the Transportation Ministry and the Russian airline Aeroflot.