updated 2/17/2007 8:15:31 AM ET 2007-02-17T13:15:31

A pilot-in-training who failed to maintain a Russian passenger jet’s speed was partly to blame for the jet slamming into a Ukrainian field last year, killing all 170 on board, a transport commission said Saturday.

The Pulkovo Airlines Tu-154 returning to St. Petersburg from the Black Sea went down on Aug. 22, 2006, near the southeastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk after its crew sent distress signals as a storm raged in the area. The plane’s 10 crew members and 160 passengers were killed.

The Interstate Aviation Committee said in a report that the pilots were inadequately prepared for flying under the stormy conditions and for their efforts to maneuver the plane through the storm. The commission also said the training instructions for the plane contained no appropriate guidance for flying under those conditions.

Alexei Morozov, an investigator for the commission, said that a pilot-in-training was at the controls at the time of the incident and the more experienced pilot failed to assist him.

“A lack of control over the aircraft’s speed was one of the factors that led to the catastrophic situation and it was the second pilot who was responsible for overseeing (this),” Morozov said in televised comments.

Transport Minister Igor Levitin said the aging model Tu-134 and Tu-154 aircraft would be phased out of civilian use in the next five years and pilot training requirements increased, according to Russian news agencies.

“We will toughen procedures for testing pilots, increasing the number of training hours, especially for co-pilots,” Levitin was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying.

The crash was one of three major air disasters involving a Russian airline or airport in 2006.

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