Aeroflot Flight 20
An Ilyushin Il-18 of Aeroflot, similar to the one involved
|Date||4 January 1965 (local time) |
3 January 1965 (Moscow time)
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain|
|Site||near Alma-Ata Airport Coordinates:|
|Aircraft type||Ilyushin Il-18B|
|Flight origin||Domodedovo Airport, Moscow, Russian SFSR|
|Stopover||Omsk Tsentralny Airport, Omsk Oblast, Russian SFSR|
|Destination||Alma-Ata Airport, Alma-Ata, Kazakh SSR|
Aeroflot Flight 20[a] (Russian: Рейс 20 Аэрофлота Reys 20 Aeroflota) was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Moscow to Alma-Ata with a stopover in Omsk that crashed in low visibility conditions on 4 January 1965, killing 64 of the 103 people on board.
Eight crew members were aboard the flight. The cockpit crew consisted of:
- Captain Konstantin Sergeevich Artamonov
- Check captain and Head of the Kazakh Civil Aviation Directorate Rishat Nurmukhametovich Azakov
- Co-pilot Nikolai Aleksandrovich Slamikhin
- Flight engineer Anatoliy Galiyevich Shakirov
- Navigator Vladimir Vasiliyevich Pristavka
- Radio operator Nikolay Nikolayevich Safonov
Flight attendants Stanislav Valentinovich Port and Augustina Yakovlevna Kuzmenykh worked in the cabin.
The flight was scheduled to depart from Domodedovo airport at 07:30 on January 4, but was delayed by necessary engine repairs. The flight did not depart from Domodedovo until 10:20 and arrived at Omsk airport at 15:52 Moscow time. The flight was supposed to depart from Omsk thereafter for a short flight to Alma-Ata. At the same time, head of the Kazakh aviation division R. Azakov had just returned from investigating a Mil Mi-4 crash and inspected the undercarriage of the Il-18 before it was cleared for the next leg of the journey. The flight's destination was delayed for 2 hours 28 minutes because visibility at Alma-Ata airport was less than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), which meant that the airport had to close for safety reasons. At 19:30 Moscow time the flight departed from Omsk en route to Alma-Ata and maintained a cruising altitude of 7,000 metres (23,000 ft).
At 20:15 Moscow time the weather at Alma-Ata was reported to have a visibility of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), wind was weak, and atmospheric pressure was 710.5 mmHg. At 20:32, a different Il-18, registered CCCP-75689, landed the runway with a 230° bearing after twice failing to land on the runway at a bearing of 50° and having to execute a go-around. After landing while taxiing at the airport the operations manager asked the Il-18 if it would be safe for another Il-18 to land in the same weather. The pilot responded by categorically denying that any Il-18 could safely land in the current conditions. The controller then to told Flight 20 to proceed to the alternate airport, Sary-Arka Airport; but five minutes later the operations manager reversed the previous instruction and told Flight 20 to start decreasing altitude to 4,500 metres (14,800 ft) and then to 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) to land at Alma-Ata. In violation of procedures the controller did not inform the flight of visibility conditions or the altitude of the lower cloud boundary.
At an altitude of 3000 meters the flight contacted air traffic control and received permission to descend to an altitude of 700 metres (2,300 ft). The landing was to be carried out on a bearing of 230°. The controller did warn of the presence of fog at the airport, but said that it had subsided a bit and it probably he did not expect visibility to go below the minimum safe level. The crew began to execute the approach as planned, but by the fourth turn the aircraft was 500 metres (1,600 ft) to the right of the center of the runway. When the flight was 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away from the runway, the controller instructed the flight to decrease altitude to 300 metres (980 ft) and warned that visibility was starting to worsen. When the aircraft was 8.5 kilometres (5.3 mi) from the end of the runway it entered the glidepath and continued decreasing altitude for the landing.
The visibility at the airfield had reached 800 metres (2,600 ft), well below the minimum safe distance; the controller did not inform the flight or the operations manager of the situation. The current conditions required the flight to be switched to the alternate airport but it was not. The non-directional beacon lights pulsed, but the aircraft began to deviate to the left slightly. The controller notified the crew of the deviation and instructed them to correct course by 2° and follow the lights to approach the runway. The crew confirmed hearing what the controller said and stated that they saw the beacon lights. The controller then instructed the flight to change course by 3°; the aircraft went from being slightly to the left of the runway to slightly to the right. The controller advised the crew to abort the landing and do a go-around, but the crew ignored the instruction and continued with the landing.
During the approach, check captain Azakov instructed the pilot-in-command Artamonov to conduct and instrument approach, while Azakov took on other landing duties. There was confusion among the crew at decision altitude (130 meters) because the controller told them to go-around due to visibility but both the navigator and inspector told the captain they saw the runway lights, leading the captain to continue the landing. Shortly thereafter the crew lost sight of the lights, but the captain was not aware that the rest of the crew lost sight of the lights; the captain then drew his attention away from his instruments to look for the lights, causing the aircraft to fly off course. When the controller commanded the flight to do a go-around, the inspector was looking for the lights while the pilot-in-command waited for him to instruct him to proceed with the go-around. Seconds before crashing the captain saw that the plane was about to crash and tried to avoid the collision with the ground, and only then did the Azakov command him to do a go-around.
At 21:01 Moscow time the flight crashed 210 metres (690 ft) to the right of the runway at a speed of 300 kilometres per hour (190 mph). The landing gear was torn off and the right wings separated from the rest of the plane. The left wing and fuselage were broken into several pieces, and a fire ignited, partially burning the wreckage. The radio operator, two flight attendants and 61 of passengers (including six children) were killed in the accident. Seventeen of the survivors sustained injuries.
The causes of the accident were described as follows:
- The air traffic controller dispatching the flight for landing in weather below minimum safe conditions and not immediately informing the crew of such conditions;
- Crew error in executing the late missed approach and flying in unsafe weather.
A secondary cause of the accident was the failure of METAR to provide weather reports at 20:00, 20:15 and 20:30 when the bad weather intensified, which would have helped assist the flight to determine if it should have continued with the approach.
It was also noted that the head of the Kazakh Civil Aviation Directorate was not supposed to assist the crew on the flight, as he had already worked fifteen hours that day and did not have a medical certificate to fly.
- Some sources state the flight number to be Flight 101 while others state the flight number to be Flight 20.
- Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Ilyushin 18B CCCP-75685 Alma-Ata Airport (ALA)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- "Ильюшин Ил-18Б Бортовой №: СССР-75685". russianplanes.net. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- "Авиакатастрофа Ил-18Б в аэропорту Алма-Аты. 1965". avia.pro. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- "Катастрофа Ил-18Б Казахского УГА в а/п Алма-Аты". www.airdisaster.ru. Retrieved 2017-12-26.