Total’s chairman and CEO was the only passenger in the Falcon 50 business jet in addition to 3 French crew members. TASS news agency confirmed that de Margerie was the only passenger who boarded the private flight to Paris. Despite Western-imposed sanctions on Russia prohibiting western financing and technology transfer to some Russian energy projects, Total is continuing to pursue a natural gas project in Yamal, a joint venture with Russia's Novatek and China's CNPC.
|A French-built Falcon 50 executive jet|
During take-off at around 0:10am Moscow time on Tuesday, the light aircraft, struck a snow-clearing machine with its landing gear. The pilot reportedly decided to turn back and land.
Whilst still in the air, the aircraft sent distress signals reporting an engine fire and fuselage damage.
Attempting a hard landing but crashing, onto the runway, the aircraft already on fire, burst into flames, killing everyone on board.
Vnukovo Airport temporarily suspended all flights following the incident, after 2 hours, the airport reopened and operations restored.
“A criminal investigation has been opened into the violation of safety regulations after a light aircraft crash in the capital's Vnukovo airport,” transport official Tatyana Morozova told RIA.
An investigation group is working at the crash site, Morozova added. Earlier in the day, due to bad weather conditions at least 18 planes were diverted from Vnukovo to other Moscow airports.
Some twelve planes have been received by Domodedovo airport while 6 landed at Sheremetyevo as dense fog and winter weather conditions make landing difficult. Some 80% of the diverted flights were reported to be private business jets.
De Margerie, 63, joined Total in 1974 after graduating from the École Supérieure de Commerce in Paris. He served in several positions in the Finance Department and Exploration & Production division. In 1995, he became President of Total Middle East before joining the Total's Executive Committee as the President of the Exploration & Production division in May 1999. In May 2006, he was appointed a member of the Board of Directors. He was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Total on May 21, 2010.
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