THE safety record of Russia’s regional jets is being scrutinised after 71 people were killed in a crash outside Moscow on Sunday.

The An-148 twin-engine internal flight to Orsk went down shortly after leaving Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, killing all 65 passengers and six crew on board.

The crash re-ignited questions about the An-148. The model’s safety record is spotty, with one previous crash and a series of major incidents in which pilots struggled to land safely.

The An-148’s production in Russia was halted last year because of low demand and media reports indicated that some carriers, including Saratov Airlines, were experiencing a shortage of spares. Some airlines reportedly had to cannibalise some of their planes to keep others airworthy.

In March 2011, an An-148 crashed during a training flight in Russia, killing all six crew on board. Investigators blamed pilot error.

Russian transport minister Maxim Sokolov announced the search for victims’ will continue all week. Despite finding the plane’s flight data recorder, national investigators will not speculate on what could have caused the tragedy and quickly ruled out a terror attack.

Investigators say the plane was intact and there had been no fire on board before it hit the ground, but fuel tanks exploded on impact, scattering debris across 74 acres in deep snow.