A tragic coda to the story of the Russian hockey team that perished in a plane crash in September: The accident was caused because one of the pilots accidentally pressed the brakes during takeoff, officials revealed today. The New York Times calls it an "extraordinarily basic human error," and explains that the misstep prevented the plane from gaining altitude. Instead it rolled off the runway at an angle that didn't allow for takeoff; the plane crashed about 1500 feet from the runway, killing 43.
Officials weren't able to determine whether the fault was the flight's commander or the co-pilot's. "Test pilots established in a flight experiment that an erroneous pushing of the brake pedals during takeoff is possible only if the pilot’s feet are placed by mistake on the braking floor," explained the head of the country's aviation commission, who added that takeoff could have been safely aborted if the crew had realized the problem. The investigation also revealed that the crew had inadequate training, and that they failed to verbally note takeoff weight, centering, and pre-calculated speeds. (Read more Russia stories.)