2016 Russian Defence Ministry Tupolev Tu-154 crash
RA-85572, the aircraft involved, in May 2016
|Date||25 December 2016|
|Summary||Loss of control at night, spatial disorientation|
|Site||Black Sea, approx 1.5 km (0.93 mi) off the coast from Sochi, Russia |
|Aircraft type||Tupolev Tu-154B-2|
|Operator||Russian Air Force|
|Flight origin||Chkalovsky Airport, Russia|
|Stopover||Sochi International Airport, Sochi, Russia|
|Destination||Khmeimim Air Base, Latakia, Syria|
On 25 December 2016, a Tupolev Tu-154 jetliner of the Russian Defence Ministry crashed into the Black Sea shortly after taking off from Sochi International Airport, Russia, while en route to Khmeimim Air Base, Syria. All 92 passengers and crew on board, including 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble choir of the Russian Armed Forces, were killed. The aircraft had flown from Chkalovsky Airport and had landed at Sochi to refuel.
The Tupolev had taken off at 05:27 local time (02:27, 25 December 2016 (UTC) ) from the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Russia, where it had landed to refuel, bound for Syria. Two minutes after takeoff, the aircraft crashed into the Black Sea, 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) from the coast. Wreckage was found at a depth of 50 to 70 metres (160 to 230 ft). All 92 people on board were killed.
Passengers and crew
Of the 92 passengers and crew on board, 64 were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble choir, the official choir of the Russian Armed Forces, including its director Valery Khalilov. The members of the Ensemble were travelling from Moscow to the Russian military base at Khmeimim near Latakia, Syria, to take part in New Year celebrations.
Among the passengers was Russian humanitarian worker Elizaveta Glinka, the Director of the Department of Culture for the Russian Ministry of Defence Anton Gubankov, seven soldiers (besides Khalilov), nine journalists (three each from Channel One Russia, NTV, and Zvezda), and two civilian officials.
By 27 December, the cockpit voice and flight data recorders had been located, and both were later recovered and sent to Moscow for analysis. By 28 December, the bodies of 18 people had been recovered from the sea. On 29 December, a third recorder, which backs up data from the CVR and FDR, was found, which, despite being damaged, revealed more information.
One Russian official downplayed the possibility of a terrorist attack as the cause of the crash, focusing more on the possibility of mechanical or human error. After the crash, all Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft in Russia were grounded.
A bright flash was purportedly caught on surveillance cameras along the Sochi coastline before the crash. Witnesses told reporters the plane appeared to experience trouble in gaining altitude, turned 180 degrees, started descending and crashed into the sea.
On 27 December it was reported that an investigative source had told the Interfax news agency that Russian investigators believed a fault with the aircraft flaps had caused the crash. The Life.ru news portal was reported to have obtained a recording of the last words of one of the pilots: "Commander, we are going down." There was no official confirmation.
On 29 December it was announced by the Flight Safety Service of the Russian Ministry that a preliminary analysis of data from the cockpit voice recorder showed that no explosion had occurred on board.
On 19 January Interfax reported that, during the underwater search, remains had also been found of a Soviet Douglas A-20 Havoc/DB-7 Boston bomber, supplied from the U.S. through the Lend-Lease agreement, which crashed on 15 November 1942.
On 31 May 2017, Russia's Kommersant said all the evidence pointed to the pilot, Maj Roman Volkov having suffered from somatogravic illusion. Analysis of the flight data suggested that the pilot had "lost his bearings and ignored his instruments, believing that the jet was climbing too sharply." Tiredness was thought to be a factor. Experts said that he was already feeling unwell on the ground and had trouble getting the plane on to the correct runway.
Russia observed a national day of mourning on 26 December, at the declaration of President Vladimir Putin. Lieutenant Colonel Igor Shevernyov, director of the Military Band Service of the Moscow Military District and inspector general of the band service commented to RT on Khalilov's by noting that it was "an irreparable loss." "It will be very difficult for us", said Shevernyov. The NYPD Police Band, which had previously worked with the ensemble in Quebec, also expressed its condolences. The victims were buried in the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery in Mytishchinsky District in Moscow Oblast. Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered that the Moscow Military Music College be given the honorific Valery Khalilov.
On 28 December, French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo published several cartoons mocking the tragedy. In response, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said: "If such, I dare say, 'artistry' is the real manifestation of 'Western values', then those who hold and support them are doomed".
- List of Russian military accidents
- 1996 Belgian Air Force Hercules accident which also resulted in the loss of a military band
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Other passengers named were the head of the military band, Valery Khalilov, and the head of the defence ministry’s department of culture, Anton Gubankov, said RT.
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The Commission fully confirmed as set out in the "b" version of another January 9 that managing their pilot lost orientation in space, hitting the power of the so-called somatogravic illusions.
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