Russia is now, mile for mile, the deadliest place in the world to fly, the Wall Street Journal finds. Nine fatal crashes—including one that killed an entire professional hockey team—have claimed a total of 140 lives. While eight of the crashes involved old Soviet-era aircraft, experts say the real problem in the former aerospace superpower is the sloppiness, risk-taking, and ineffective regulation more commonly associated with aviation basket cases like the Congo.
Crash investigators have found large numbers of safety violations, including drunk flight crews and forged documents. Safety officials—who blame the surge in crashes on government efforts to boost business by reducing inspections—plan to turn things around by stepping up regulation, raising standards, and closing many smaller airlines. Similar steps made Chinese skies some of the world's safest after a series of deadly crashes a decade ago. "We're taking an absolutely principled approach to ensuring safety now," the Russian Aviation Agency's safety chief insists. "We're not allowing anything by."