1997 Irkutsk Antonov An-124 crash
|Date||December 6, 199714:42|
|Summary||Multiple engine failure on climb-out|
|Site||Mira Street, Irkutsk, Russia
|Aircraft type||Antonov An-124-100|
|Operator||Ukrainian Cargo Airways|
|Flight origin||Irkutsk Northwest Airport|
|Stopover||Vladivostok International Airport|
|Destination||Cam Ranh Air Base, Vietnam|
|Fatalities||72 (23 in the aircraft and 49 on the ground)|
On 6 December 1997 a Russian Air Force Antonov An-124-100, en route from Irkutsk Northwest Airport to Cam Ranh Air Base in Vietnam, crashed in a residential area after take-off from Irkutsk-2 airport.
Three seconds after lift-off from Runway 14 at Irkutsk, the No.3 engine surged at approximately 5 m (16 ft) altitude. The aircraft continued to climb, but at a high angle of attack, disrupting airflow to No.1 and No.2 engines which also surged.
The Antonov An-124-100 aircraft that crashed was first leased by Aeroflot in 1985 with her maiden flight on 30 October 1985. On 14 February 1988, ownership was transferred to the Soviet Air Forces, under the 566th Military Transport Regiment based in Seshcha, Bryansk Oblast airbase, with a tail number of CCCP-82005 (RA-82005). On the day of the accident the plane had clocked 576 cycles for the Russian Air Force and had flown over 1034 hours.
At 14:42 IKT plane took off from Irkutsk. However, just 3 seconds after lift-off from the runway at a height of 5 metres (16 ft), there was a surge in engine number 3 which caused an increase of the angular velocity of the plane. This resulted in a shutdown of engine number 2. 8 seconds after take off at the altitude of 66 metres (217 ft), following surge in engine number 1, the plane went into descent.
Although the pilots had tried to maintain control over the plane with a single remaining functioning engine, the plane crashed into apartment block number 45 on Mira Street. The tail section of the plane significantly damaged block number 120 and a neighboring orphanage.
The crash resulted in the deaths of all of the crew on board the plane as well as 49 people on the ground (including 12 children from the orphanage). More than 70 families were left homeless due the damage dealt on the two blocks by the crashed plane. The damages were aggravated due to the ignition of tons of aviation fuel leaked during the crash.
A special commission was established to investigate the causes of the disaster.
The two flight recorders, including the cockpit voice recorder, were in the center of the fire and were too badly damaged to provide meaningful data. The cause of failure of the three engines at once was officially recognized as the excessive overload of the aircraft.
However, temperatures in Irkutsk were below −20 °C (−4 °F) and it was theorized that the disaster was caused by mixing cold-weather fuel with regular fuel, which was present in the tanks of An-124 after previous flight from Vietnam. That mix would have produced ice crystals clogging the fuel filters, which cut the fuel flow to the engines.
In an interview with the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, test pilot Alexander Akimenkov said that the accident of RA-82005 in Irkutsk could have been caused by the call of one of the passengers on the Chinese radiotelephone, which affected the electronics work.
Major General Boris Tumanov, former chief of the Russian Air Force flight safety service (1993–2002) and a member of the commission of inquiry into air accidents with military aircraft, told Moskovsky Komsomolets that the cause of the accident was the failure of three engines as a result of the surge.
In 2009, Fedor Muravchenko, General Designer of Design Bureau Ivchenko-Progress (which is the developer of aircraft engines for the An-124), gave his own version of the causes of the disaster. Based on the knowledge of this enterprise of research and experiments and his own theoretical calculations, he concluded that disaster situation was caused by high (in excess of normative) water content in aviation fuel (kerosene) and as a consequence – ice formed and clogged fuel filters, causing engines to surge.
- Turkish Airlines Flight 6491 – another crash with many fatalities on the ground.
- "Accident description". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- Velovich, Alexander (1997-12-17). "Multiple engine failure blamed for An-124 Irkutsk accident". FlightGlobal. Flight International. Archived from the original on 2017-06-12. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
- "The crash of the AN-124 in Irkutsk (1997)". Ria Novosti. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "An-124-100 Crash on 6 December 1997". Air Disaster Russia (in Russian). Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Yak-42 was downed by a phone call?". Moskovskiy Komsomolets (in Russian). Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- "Former head of the Air Force flight safety service revealed the secrets of high-profile plane crashes of recent years". Moskovsky Komsomolets (in Russian). Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- I cannot be silent anymore about the Irkutsk disaster. (In Russian)(part 1, 2, 3, 4)
- Haine, Edgar A. (2000). Disaster in the Air. Associated University Presses. p. 43. Retrieved 10 November 2017.