Aeroflot Flight 1492
The aircraft involved seen in 2017
|Date||5 May 2019|
|Summary||Crash landing; under investigation|
|Site||Sheremetyevo International Airport, Moscow, Russia |
|Aircraft type||Sukhoi Superjet 100|
|Aircraft name||Mustai Karim|
|IATA flight No.||SU1492|
|ICAO flight No.||AFL1492|
|Call sign||AEROFLOT 1492|
|Flight origin||Sheremetyevo International Airport|
|Destination||Murmansk Airport, Russia|
Aeroflot Flight 1492 was a scheduled passenger flight from Moscow–Sheremetyevo to Murmansk, Russia. On 5 May 2019, the Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft operating the flight was climbing after take-off when it was struck by lightning. The radio and other equipment failed, and the flight crew made an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo. Flight 1492 bounced on landing and touched down hard, causing the undercarriage to collapse and a fire to erupt, which quickly engulfed the rear of the aircraft. Forty-one of the 78 occupants died, as they were unable to evacuate in time.
The aircraft was a Russian-built Sukhoi Superjet 100, MSN (manufacturer's serial number) 95135, and was registered as RA-89098. It was delivered new to Aeroflot on 27 September 2017 and had built up 2,710 flight hours and 1,658 cycles (a take-off and landing make for one flight cycle) before the accident. Aeroflot Superjets are configured with 87 passenger seats, 12 in business and 75 in economy.
Flight 1492 took off from runway 24C at Sheremetyevo International Airport, bound for Murmansk Airport, on 5 May 2019 at 18:02 local time (15:02 UTC). Towering cumulonimbus clouds were observed in the vicinity of the airport with a base of 6,000 ft (1,800 m) and peaking at about 29,000 feet (8,800 m). Five minutes after take-off, the aircraft was climbing through 7,900 ft (2,400 m) when it suffered an electrical failure. The primary radio and autopilot became inoperative and the flight control mode changed to DIRECT – a degraded, more challenging mode of operation. The aircraft was struck by lightning but a definitive link between the strike and the electrical failure has not been established. The crew were able to make a pan-pan call on the emergency frequency and maintain some form of communication with air traffic control.[a] The transponder code was changed to 7600 (to indicate radio failure) at 15:11 UTC and subsequently to 7700 (emergency) at 15:26 UTC while on final approach.
The aircraft stopped its climb at flight level 100 and came around to land at Sheremetyevo. It overshot the runway centreline, completed a circle and inititiated a second approach for runway 24L. The crew tuned into the instrument landing system and the captain flew the approach manually. Upon capturing the glideslope, the aircraft's weight was 43.5 tonnes (96,000 lb), 1.6 tonnes (3,500 lb) over the maximum landing weight. The flaps were lowered to 25 degrees, which is the recommended setting for an overweight landing in DIRECT mode. The wind was blowing from 190 degrees at 30 knots (15 m/s) – a 50-degree crosswind – and the speed stabilised at 155 knots (287 km/h). Between 1,100 feet (340 m) and 900 feet (270 m) AGL, the predictive windshear warning sounded repeatedly, advising the flight crew to go around. Descending through 260 feet (79 m), the aircraft began to deviate below the glideslope and the "GLIDESLOPE" aural alert sounded. The speed increased to 170 knots (310 km/h) at 16 feet (4.9 m) AGL in response to an increase in engine thrust. As he reduced the thrust to idle for the flare, the captain made several large, alternating side-stick inputs, causing the pitch to vary between −2 and +6 degrees.
The aircraft bounced twice on landing. The first touchdown occurred 900 metres (3,000 ft) beyond the runway threshold at a speed of 158 knots (293 km/h) and a load of 2.55 g. The aircraft bounced to a height of 6 feet (1.8 m). Automatic spoiler deployment is inhibited in DIRECT mode and the spoilers were not extended manually. The aircraft made a second touchdown two seconds later, nose-first, and at a speed of 155 knots (287 km/h), experiencing a load of 5.85 g and bouncing to a height of 18 feet (5.5 m) AGL. The aircraft impacted the ground at a speed of 140 knots (260 km/h) and with a vertical load in excess of 5 g; the landing gear collapsed, fuel spilled out of the wings and a fire erupted, which instantly engulfed the wings, rear fuselage and empennage. Fire alarms were triggered in the cockpit for the aft cargo hold and the auxiliary power unit, and the latter's fire bottle was discharged. The aircraft slid down the runway, veered to the left and came to a standstill on the grass between two runway-adjoining taxiways, about 27 minutes after take-off.
An evacuation was carried out from the front passenger doors and their slides were deployed. Aeroflot claimed the evacuation took 55 seconds, though video evidence shows the slides still in use 70 seconds after their deployment. The rear half of the aircraft was destroyed by the fire, which was extinguished about 45 minutes after landing.
Passengers and crew
Five crew and 73 passengers were onboard on the aircraft. The crew consisted of the captain, a first officer and three cabin crew members. The captain, aged 43, held an Airline Transport Pilot Licence and had 6,844 flying hours, including 1,570 on the Superjet. The 36-year-old first officer held a Commercial Pilot Licence and had 773 hours of flying experience with 623 on the Superjet.
Forty passengers and the flight attendant seated in the rear of the aircraft were killed. Forty of the victims were Russian and one a US citizen, and 26 resided in Murmansk Oblast, including a 12-year-old girl.
The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) opened an investigation into the accident. The French BEA is participating as representative of the state of design of the aircraft engine and EASA will offer technical advice to BEA. On 6 May 2019, the IAC said in a press release that both flight recorders had been recovered. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was found in satisfactory condition, but the flight data recorder (FDR) casing was damaged by exposure to extremely high temperatures and IAC specialists were working to extract the data.
On 17 May, the IAC announced that data from the flight recorders had been read out and their analysis was in progress. The IAC sent a follow-up accident report to Rosaviatsiya, the Russian civil aviation authority. Rosaviatsiya issued a safety information bulletin containing a summary of the accident and a number of recommendations.
A criminal investigation was opened into a fatal “violation of the rules of safe movement and exploitation of air transport”. The Investigative Committee said on 6 May it was considering insufficient skill of the pilots, dispatchers and those who performed the technical inspection of the plane, along with mechanical problems and poor weather, as a possible cause of the accident. A high-ranking law enforcement source told Lenta.ru that experts would examine the actions of Sheremetyevo's fire and rescue service. The source said air traffic control were late with raising the alarm and fire engines had not left the fire station at the time of the accident. Only two of the six available engines were involved within the first six minutes and they were not filled with foam, which is more effective against a fuel-fed fire than water. Experts will have to answer more than 50 questions.
Response from Aeroflot
On 6 May 2019, Aeroflot announced that they would compensate surviving passengers and the families of the deceased. One million rubles (US$15,320) were to be paid to passengers that did not require hospitalization, two million rubles ($30,640) to passengers who were hospitalized and five million rubles ($76,600) were to be paid to the families of the deceased.
Following the release of the accident summary by Rosaviatsiya on 17 May, it was reported in the media that the pilots had failed to set some of the sufaces of the wing – variously referred to as the "flaps", "brakes" and "air brakes" in news reports – for landing. On the same day, Aeroflot issued a statement in which it denied the pilots had violated company procedures. Aeroflot said the flaps were properly configured for landing and that the spoilers should be extended manually only when reverse thrust is applied and the aircraft has settled on the runway. The airline said preliminary information by Rosaviatsiya are not evidence of pilot error and criticised the media for jumping to conclusions.
Cancellations and public perception
On 5 May, a petition to ground Superjet 100 during the investigation was created on Change.org. By May 8, it was signed by 140,000 people and Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov commented that the decision should be taken by "competent aviation authorities" and not by citizens who sign petitions on the portal. The Ministry of Transport of Russia decided against grounding the Superjet 100, stating there was no obvious sign of a design flaw. Aeroflot cancelled approximately 50 Superjet flights in the week after the accident. Kommersant cited industry sources as saying the Superjet 100 had lower dispatch reliability than Airbus and Boeing aircraft in the airline's fleet historically and attributed a rise in cancellations to "increased safety measures" at Aeroflot while the accident is investigated. The Superjet suffered a number of technical failures in the weeks following the accident which attracted media attention in Russia. On 18 May, an Aeroflot Superjet 100 from Ulyanovsk to Moscow–Sheremetyevo aborted its take-off due to a hydraulics failure indication following which the passengers refused to fly on the Superjet.
On 17 May Russia’s regional airline RusLine has abandoned its plans to purchase 18 Superjet 100. According to the carrier’s owner, this decision is due to the likely reputational risks after the 5 May accident.
Evacuating with luggage
During the evacuation, passengers were seen carrying hand luggage down the evacuation slides, leading to speculation that passengers retrieving their luggage delayed the evacuation. According to TASS's law enforcement source, the majority of passengers in the tail end of the aircraft had practically no chance of rescue, many of them did not even have time to unfasten their seat belts. He added that those passengers from the tail section of the aircraft who managed to escape had moved to the front of the aircraft even before it stopped, and that he had no confirmation that retrieval of luggage had slowed the evacuation. Speculation that the observed retrieval of luggage caused an evacuation delay was also refuted by witnesses.
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- The crew said: "Requesting return. Loss of radio communication, the plane is in direct mode". The phrase "aircraft in direct mode", spoken in a mixture of Russian and English (samolyot v direkt mode), was originally mistakenly interpreted as "the plane is burning in lightning" (samolyot gorit v molnii).
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to RA-89098 (aircraft).|
- RRJ-95B RA-89098 05.05.2019 - Interstate Aviation Committee - Russian version
- Aeroflot news releases
- Flightradar24 data regarding Aeroflot flight 1492
- on YouTube
- Safety information bulletin from Rosaviatsiya, containing a summary of the accident