2011 Silk Way Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 crash
4K-AZ55, the aircraft involved in the accident, is seen here at Manas International Airport in 2007
|Date||6 July 2011|
|Site||Near Bagram Air Base|
|Aircraft type||Ilyushin Il-76|
|Operator||Silk Way Airlines|
|Flight origin||Heydar Aliyev International Airport|
|Destination||Bagram Air Base|
A Silk Way Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft crashed into a 3,500-metre-high (11,500 ft) hillside on 6 July 2011, short of landing at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, killing all nine people on board. It was transporting a load of 18 tonnes (18 long tons; 20 short tons) of fuel for the International Security Assistance Force based in Bagram. The aircraft broke up and burned when it hit the ground. Attempts to reach the crash site were repelled by gunfire, in spite of assurances from the International Security Assistance Force that the Taliban was not active in the area at the time. Azerbaijani Ambassador to Afghanistan and Pakistan Dashgin Shikarova considered that reports indicating technical problems with the 4K-AZ55 are not true; in his opinion the Taliban shot the aircraft down. The bodies of the crew were located on 23 July.
The aircraft involved in the accident was a 2005-built Ilyushin Il-76TD, registration 4K-AZ55 and serial number 2053420680, owned by Silk Way Holding, a company linked to Azerbaijan Airlines. Powered with a four-Soloviev D-30 KP-2 power plant, the aircraft received its last full technical inspection on February 2011 and had passed a regular technical inspection one month prior to the crash. The Azerbaijani Civil Aviation Authority stated that the pilot in command, born in 1969, had logged more than 4,570 flying hours at the time of the accident.
Description of the accident
The aircraft was about to complete a cargo flight from Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, transporting 18 tonnes (18 long tons; 20 short tons) of fuel for the International Security Assistance Force, based in Bagram; it had departed Baku at 16:26 UTC and was scheduled to land at the Bagram Air Base at 21:10 UTC on 5 July. Moments prior to landing at Bagram, the aircraft disappeared from the radar screens; according to an air traffic controller in Kabul, there was a flash in the sky at a height of 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) some 25 kilometres (16 mi) away from their observation point. It was later confirmed that the aircraft plunged into a 3,500-metre-high (11,500 ft) hillside. According to the Azerbaijani Civil Aviation Authority, no problems had been reported before communications with the aircraft were lost. The 4K-AZ55 had flown the Kuwait–Baku route earlier without any reported incident. Silk Way Airlines temporarily halted its operations to Afghanistan after the accident; they were resumed on 21 July.
Upon crashing, the aircraft broke up into 10 to 20 pieces. Fragments of the burnt fuselage were found in the Parvand Province, 50 kilometres (31 mi) north of Afghanistan's capital, the day after the crash. Azerbaijan Airlines' vice-president, who also co-chaired the committee that investigated the accident, declared that recovery of the bodies from the crash site would be "almost impossible" given that the wreckage of the aircraft was on fire for about two hours. The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, said the crash site was very difficult to access not only because of the presence of the Taliban in the region, but also because of the terrain. The bodies of the crew were found on 23 July; all nine people aboard the aircraft perished. The list of victims is as follows:[nb 1]
- Sergey Kuzmin (b. 1969), pilot in command
- Oleg Marshikhin (b. 1979), co-pilot
- Igor Zheng (b. 1966), navigator
- Vladimir Shatobin (b. 1969)
- Ahmedjan Khajayev (b. 1955), radio operator
- Elnur Mahmudov (b. 1981), radio operator
- Tapdig Gahramanov (b. 1964)
- Afghan Rahimov (b. 1980), mechanic
- Mehman Huseynov (b. 1962), mechanic
Possible Taliban involvement
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told an Iranian news agency that the aircraft had been shot down by Taliban rebels who believed the aircraft was carrying a shipment of weapons, but local governor Abdulhalim Mujaddidi denied the Taliban was involved. Despite assurances from a British major serving as spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force that no rebel activity was taking place in that area at the time of the crash, several attempts to reach the crash site were repelled by gunfire. Dashgin Shikarova, Azerbaijani ambassador to Afghanistan and Pakistan, considered that reports indicating technical problems with the 4K-AZ55 were not true. His opinion is that the Taliban shot the aircraft down.
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- Accident description for 4K-AZ55 at the Aviation Safety Network
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