41 Killed, Including Two Children, As Russian Passenger Jet Crash-Landed At Moscow Airport
A Russian passenger jet crash-landed at a Moscow airport on Sunday, May 5, killing at least 41 people on board, including two children, after bursting into flames.
A video shows the rear section of the plane on fire, with Aeroflot flight SU 1492 skidding down the runway at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, spilling black, thick smoke.
Жёсткая посадкаSSJ-100 pic.twitter.com/OIJ1OldW9h
— Коммерсантъ FM 93,6 (@KFM936) May 5, 2019
What had happened?
With the plane coming to a halt, some passengers managed to escape through emergency slides from the two forward doors, and run away from the burning aircraft.
According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, the Superjet 100 was flying to Murmansk from Moscow when a “loss of communication” caused by a “lightning strike” forced them to return to Sheremetyevo. However, there is no official word on the cause of the accident.
Data from flight tracker Flightradar24 shows that the plane, after taking off at just after 6 p.m local time (11 a.m. ET), headed back to the airport after remaining in the air for just under 30 minutes.
78 people including 5 crew members were aboard the flight, and 37 of them survived. Elena Markovskaya, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said that among the ones who survived, five are currently being treated at a hospital.
A passenger in another plane posted a video on Instagram, showing fire crews attending the scene with the aircraft ablaze on the runway.
An “incomplete” list of 33 survivors, including those who are being treated at the hospital, was published by Aeroflot, Russia’s unofficial national carrier. It mentioned in a series of statements on its website that compared to the “industry norm” of 90 seconds, the aircraft was evacuated within 55 seconds.
Another short release said that the flight crew “did everything in its power to save passenger lives and provide emergency assistance to those involved.”
The airline offered condolences to the passengers and their families and stated that the captain was the last one to leave the burning aircraft. It further said that it is going to fly relatives of those who have been affected to Moscow.
Criminal probe launched
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been informed about the emergency landing of the aircraft leading to the disaster, and he has ordered a “thorough investigation”.
“All instructions have been given to conduct the most thorough investigation, (to carry out) the necessary orders to find out the cause of this accident,” said Peskov, adding that Putin “extends his deep condolences to those who lost their near and dear ones in this incident.”
A criminal probe has been launched into the incident by Russia’s Investigative Committee, which routinely conducts investigations into serious incidents.
The airline has announced that Aeroflot’s rapid response center has been activated, headed by CEO Vitaly Saveliev.
Sukhoi, which manufactures military aircraft, is mostly known for its fighter jets. The Sukhoi Superjet 100, its civilian aircraft, is the first post-Soviet commercial airliner designed and built in Russia.
The Superjet, over 100 of which are operating around the world, is relatively a new aircraft. It was pressed into service in mid-2011.
A demonstration flight of the same model crashed over Indonesia in 2012, in a remote part of the country. The same year, a Superjet 100 operated by Russia’s Aeroflot Airlines had to return to Moscow, abandoning its flight to Astrakhan, Russia, due to problems with the undercarriage.
The previous year, a similar defect in another Superjet 100 plane, operated by Aeroflot, had to be fixed in Minsk.
However, the model, which holds safety certificates from various aviation authorities, achieved the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Type Certificate in 2012.
In the last few months, there have been multiple instances of plane crashes around the world.
A Lion Air flight crashed in Java sea, killing all 189 passengers onboard in October 2018. In March this year, an Ethiopian Airlines flight carrying 149 passengers and eight crew members onboard crashed, killing a total of 157 people.
A regular and common mode of transport for several people across the world, aeroplanes have been trusted to be one of the safest mediums to commute. However, the recent crashes raise questions on the aircraft manufacturers and the civil aviation authorities around the world that are certifying such aircraft and compromising the safety of passengers who pay significant amounts for air travel.