MOSCOW — A passenger plane with 28 people aboard was missing in far eastern Russia on Tuesday, the authorities said, in what could be the latest blow to the country’s sprawling but aging domestic aviation industry.
The plane, a Soviet-made An-26 flying a regional route in the mountainous peninsula of Kamchatka, lost radio contact with air traffic control about 10 minutes before its expected landing in the town of Palana, near the Sea of Okhotsk, officials said. An airplane, four helicopters and the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet were deployed in the search for survivors.
“All emergency services have sounded the alarm and have been dispatched to search the route of the plane,” the Kamchatka regional government said in a statement.
The incident appeared to be Russia’s third major commercial aviation calamity in the last three and a half years. In 2018, an An-148 regional jet plunged into a field just after takeoff from Moscow, killing all 71 aboard. In 2019, a Russian-made Sukhoi SSJ-100 jet made a fiery emergency landing on a Moscow runway, killing 41.
And it appeared to be at least the second failure involving a passenger plane flying to Palana from Kamchatka’s main city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. In 2012, an An-28 approaching the remote town of about 3,000 people crashed into a mountainside, killing 10.
The Russian aviation sector has been modernized in recent years, and the state airline, Aeroflot, operates close to 200 Boeing and Airbus jets. But in the far-flung regions, where an aircraft is sometimes the only available mode of travel, airlines still often rely on rumbling, low-flying, Soviet-era propeller planes.
On Kamchatka, a sparsely populated land of snowcapped peaks, geysers and volcanoes across the northern Pacific Ocean from Alaska, the regional airline, Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, serves seven towns and villages from its Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky hub. The airline did not immediately comment on the flight that was missing on Tuesday, Flight PTK-251.
Within hours of Tuesday’s disappearance, the regional government published the names of those on the plane — six crew members and 22 passengers, including two children. Air traffic controllers had lost contact with the craft as it turned to prepare for landing amid poor visibility about six miles from Palana, its destination, officials said.
The plane involved first entered service in 1982, the state-run news agency Tass reported. Its past operators include Air Mali in Africa and the United Nations, and it has been flying in Kamchatka since 2013, the news agency said.