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Russia Checks All Budget Airlines After FlyDubai Crash

Transit safety watchdog Rostransnadzor has launched inspections of budget airlines following the deadly crash of a FlyDubai plane in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, the TASS news agency reported Wednesday, citing the agency's deputy chief.

The official, Vladimir Chertok, told TASS that his agency “constantly inspects all airlines, it’s just that in this case we have intensified the attention paid to them.” The checks apply to all Russian and international budget airlines flying in and out of Russia.

The heightened scrutiny follows the catastrophic crash on March 19 of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft operated by the Dubai-based low-cost airline FlyDubai — a subsidiary of international carrier Emirates — during a landing attempt at Rostov-on-Don. All 62 people aboard died.

The plane made several landing attempts under harsh weather conditions before crashing. According to an unidentified source close to Russia's aviation authority, cited by TASS, the FlyDubai pilots were apparently attempting to abort their second landing attempt when the plane suddenly dropped from an altitude of 900 meters and exploded on impact.

The two main theories of the causes of the accident are pilot error and a technical malfunction, Russia's Investigative Committee has said. However, independent experts have said the relatively new Boeing was more likely downed by dangerously strong gusts of wind, which can lead to a loss of control when flying low and slowly.

On Saturday, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said that Russian authorities will inspect FlyDubai's operations within Russia.

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