Aeroflot Flight 721
A preserved former Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-18, similar to the crashed aircraft
|Date||September 2, 1964|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain|
|Site||Near Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union|
|Aircraft type||Ilyushin Il-18V|
|Flight origin||Sheremetyevo International Airport, Moscow|
|Destination||Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk|
Aeroflot Flight 721 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight between Moscow and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in Soviet Russia. On Wednesday, September 2, 1964, the aircraft flying this route, an Ilyushin Il-18, crashed into the side of a hill on approach to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, killing 87 of the 93 people on board. At the time, it was the deadliest Il-18 crash and the deadliest aviation accident on Russian soil.
The aircraft involved was an Ilyushin Il-18V turboprop airliner registered CCCP-75531. At the time of the accident, it had only been in service for about a year and had logged merely 1,269 total flight hours.
Flight 721's route led it eastward across Russia from Moscow to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, with stopovers in Khabarovsk and Krasnoyarsk. As it neared Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the flight crew, rather than complete the standard approach pattern, requested permission for a direct approach, which was granted. As the aircraft descended, it crashed into a wooded hillside at an elevation of about 2,000 feet, killing all nine crew members and 78 of the 84 passengers.
The official report cited pilot error and poor in-flight planning as the cause of the accident; the crew initiated descent prematurely and apparently did not have sufficient knowledge of approach conditions, and these factors combined ultimately led to the crash.