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Russian crash probe reveals faulty crew maneuvers

James Heintz, Associated Press

In this photo provided by Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, fire fighters and rescuers work at the crash site of a Russian passenger airliner near Kazan, the capital of the Tatarstan republic, about 720 kilometers (450 miles) east of Moscow, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. A Russian passenger airliner crashed Sunday night while trying to land at the airport in the city of Kazan, killing all people aboard, officials said. The Boeing 737 belonging to Tatarstan Airlines crashed an hour after taking off from Moscow. There were no immediate indications of the cause. (AP Photo/Russian Emergency Situations Ministry)

MOSCOW (AP) -- The pilots of a Boeing 737 that plunged to earth at the Kazan airport, killing all 50 aboard, lost speed in a steep climb then overcompensated and sent the plane into a near-vertical dive, a preliminary report by Russian aviation experts reported Tuesday.

The Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee, which oversees civil flights in much of the former Soviet Union, said the plane's engines and other systems were working fine until the moment the plane hit the ground Sunday night.

It said the plane's two pilots had failed to make a proper landing approach on the first attempt and then began a second run.

They put the plane's engines on maximum power, raising the plane's nose up at a sharp angle, causing a quick loss of speed.

At the height of about 700 meters (2,200 feet), the crew then tried to gain speed by taking the plane into a dive but hit the ground at a near-vertical angle in a spectacular crash.

The report drew its conclusions from data retrieved from one of the plane's onboard recorders. It said the climb and the subsequent plunge lasted only about one minute.

The plane struck the ground at about 450 kilometers per hour (280 mph), the report said.