Saratov Airlines (6W, Saratov Tsentralny) has temporarily grounded all An-148-100Bs as of February 12, a day after one of the carrier's aircraft of the type crashed shortly after take-off from Moscow Domodedovo en route to Orsk, killing all 71 passengers and crew on board.

The Russian airline underlined in a statement that the investigation is still ongoing and it is too early to identify the causes of the fatal accident. As such, no technical faults have yet been identified in regard to the Antonov Design Bureau twinjets and their grounding is, as of now, solely a matter of precaution.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, Saratov Airlines currently operates five active An-148-100Bs, originally delivered to Rossiya (FV, St. Petersburg) in 2009 and 2010. RA-61704 (msn 27015040004), which crashed on February 11, was one of the younger aircraft, delivered in June 2010. Before the grounding, the carrier had deployed the aircraft mainly out of Moscow Domodedovo to Kirov, Orsk, Penza, and Kursk.

There are currently thirty-two Antonov regional twinjets in active service with seven operators, the ch-aviation fleets module shows. Saratov Airlines is the largest commercial operator of the type aside from the Russian government's SLO Rossiya and 223rd Flight Units.

Meanwhile, the Orenburg region authorities have announced their intention to replace Saratov Airlines with another carrier on the subsidized Orsk-Moscow Domodedovo route, Interfax has reported. Negotiations are reported to be underway with two other potential operators.