BERLIN — German authorities on Monday recovered the bodies of three people, including one of Russia’s richest women, who were killed in a small plane crash near Frankfurt a day earlier.
Russian airline S7 Group said co-owner Natalia Fileva was aboard the single-engine, six-seat Epic LT aircraft that crashed and burned Sunday afternoon in a field as it approached the small airport at the German town of Egelsbach near Frankfurt.
The Epic LT is an amateur-built plane developed by Epic Aircraft in Bend. The company’s major investor is S7 Group co-owner and Fileva’s husband, Vladislav Filev. For the past several years he has backed the company’s effort to obtain factory certification of the E1000, which is based on the design of the LT.
A spokeswoman for Epic did not respond to a request for comment.
The crash in Germany would be the second fatal crash on record for an Epic LT, according to the National Transportation Safety Board database. In December 2016, a private pilot and his passenger died after the pilot became disoriented and lost control in the fog at Port Orange, Florida.
The business publication Forbes.ru has estimated Fileva’s fortune at $600 million.
Russian news reports said Fileva, who co-owned S7 with her husband, was traveling with her father.
German police have said there were two Russian citizens on board but haven’t provided any positive identification of the victims yet.
The plane took off from the Mediterranean city of Cannes, a popular holiday destination for rich Russians on the glitzy French Riviera.
The cause of the crash remained unclear on Monday. Knut Happel, a spokesman for prosecutors in Darmstadt, said investigators hope for evidence from witnesses and the burnt-out wreckage itself, but, given the state of the plane, it will probably take “some time” to establish.
The Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee, which investigates crashes involving planes from Russia and other ex-Soviet nations, said in a statement that it sent a group of experts to help the German investigation.
With a base at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, S7 is part of the Oneworld alliance and flies to 150 destinations in 35 countries, using 56 Airbus planes and 23 aircraft from Boeing. Vladislav Filev is chair of the company’s board of directors, according to the company’s third-quarter 2018 financial statement.
— Bulletin staff contributed to this report.