Revelations of safety concerns with the the Yak-42 plane carrying the Lokomotiv hockey club  that crashed Wednesday are raising some serious questions for Russian authorities and the KHL. According to some investigative work from Barry Petchesky at Deadspin, and Slava Malamud of Sport-Express, the plane was banned from flying to Europe two years ago for failing to meet international safety standards.

Petchesky on the banned plane:

In 2009, the European Commission published a report on foreign carriers that did not meet standards. Included was RA-42433, previously operated by Tatarstan airlines.

“On the basis of verified evidence of major safety deficiencies affecting flight operations detected on the part of the air carrier YAK Service certified by the competent authorities of the Russian Federation, the Commission launched a formal investigation of that air carrier on 15 July 2009…These aircraft were not equipped to perform international flights as per ICAO standards (not equipped with TAWS/E-GPWS) and their certificate of airworthiness had expired and had not been renewed.”

The Russian Federation initially promised they would bring the aircraft up to date, but later decided against it. All planes owned by charter company YAK Service have been prohibited from flying to countries within the European community, which does not include Belarus, today’s destination.

HOTH contributor and Good Point hockey editor John Matisz spoke with ex-NHLer Claude Lemieux on Wednesday morning, and the four-time Stanley Cup champion noted concerns from friends playing in Russia with regards to travel conditions in the KHL:

“I played against some these guys and got to know Brad McCrimmon a little bit throughout the years. It’s just devastating. [...] I have heard from players who have been playing in Russia in the last few years & they think the travel was difficult, the airplanes they were using were quite scary. It’s just really unfortunate.”

While we await a formal investigation into what caused Wednesday’s tragic crash, the pre-existing safety issues and comments from Lemieux certainly bring some weighty concerns to the forefront.

More to come as news is available…

Image via CTPost