Aeroflot Flight 331
|Date||27 May 1977|
|Site||Off José Martí International Airport
|Fatalities||69 (1 on ground)|
|Aircraft type||Ilyushin Il-62M|
|Flight origin||Sheremetyevo International Airport|
|1st stopover||Frankfurt Airport|
|Last stopover||Lisbon Airport|
|Destination||José Martí International Airport|
Aeroflot Flight 331, refers to an Ilyushin Il-62M, registration СССР-86614, that was operated by the International Civil Aviation Directorate of Aeroflot as an international scheduled Moscow–Frankfurt–Lisbon–Havana passenger service, and crashed approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) away from José Martí International Airport, Havana, Cuba, on 27 May 1977 after it hit power lines on its final approach to the airport in poor weather. It was disclosed the aircraft was attempting an emergency landing, having one of its engines on fire. Only two of the 70 occupants on board survived; another person on the ground was also killed.
At the time the accident took place it was the deadliest aviation accident in Cuba's history; as of August 2012[update], it remains the second deadliest one, behind Cubana Flight 9646. The cause of the crash was determined as pilot error according to the official report.
The aircraft involved was an Ilyushin Il-62M, registered CCCP-86614 to Aeroflot. At the time of the accident, the aircraft had 5549 hours of flight and 1144 use cycles. The aircraft was finished and delivered to Aeroflot in 1975
Passengers and Crew
At the stoppover in Lisbon a new crew was charged with the aircraft. The five-member crew consisted of Captain Viktor Orlov, co-pilot Vasily Shevelev, navigator Anatoly Vorobyov, flight engineer Yuri Suslov and radio operator Evhen Pankov. The five cabin stewards were as follows; Galina Grigorieva, Polishchuk Lyudmila, Eugene Kvasnikova, Tamara Galkin and Vladimir Rukotov. The only two survivors of the crash were a West German woman and a Soviet man. One of the victims was José Carlos Schwarz, a poet and musician from Guinea-Bissau. Another was the Australian solicitor and Aboriginal Legal Service pioneer Peter Tobin.
Sequence of events
At 03:32 UTC Aeroflot flight 331 took off from Lisbon airport and ascended to 35 thousand feet (10.67 kilometers). While on approach to Havana the crew reported seeing false altitude and air pressure readings. Upon approach to Havana, they were granted permission to descend from 35,000 feet to 15,000 feet, followed by being ordered to descend to 3,000 ft. Set to approach number two at they had to fly two minutes then turn 52° to land on the runway at the glide path. At the time, cumulus clouds were present, visibility was 8 kilometers (but a dense fog was 40 meters high), air pressure was 758mm Hg (or 0.99737 atm) and the temperature was 21° Celsius. At 8:45:28 (12:45:28 UTC) local time at 1270 meters from the runway, whilst approaching the runway, saw power lines 28 meters high, and, in efforts of avoiding them, pulled back on the yoke. But at 23–25 meters they clipped all four power lines, slicing stabilizer and severing the right outboard wing flaps. The damage caused by the power lines resulted in the aircraft making a sharp bank to the right at 70° in the time of three seconds. The plane crashed starting with the bow of the right wing, followed by total hull loss of the aircraft due the fire engulfing the cabin, only the tail section was spared.
The investigation into the accident revealed serious errors made by the crew in the last moments of the flight. Most significant was the decision to go approach number two, followed the errors in calculating altitude resulting inflated altitude readings resulting in a premature decline at a trajectory too low. The committee in charge of the accident investigation declared that the main cause of the accident was called a premature decline caused by crew error in setting the air pressure altimeter, flying in too dense fog to navigate a visual approach on approach number two. The secondary reason cited was the blatant violation by the crew of the approach procedures and the lack of control by the crew of the aircraft on setting the radio altimeter reduction.
- Катастрофа Ил-62М ЦУ МВС близ Гаваны (Куба) [Accident Il-62M Havana] (in Russian). airdisaster.ru. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Accident description for CCCP-86614 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 3 September 2011.
- "Airline accidents". Flight International: 1689. 11 June 1977. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013.
It is reported that the aircraft struck a power line while attempting an emergency landing in fog.
- "Soviet Jet Crashes; 66 Die". Nashua Telegraph. Mexico City. Associated Press. 28 May 1977. p. 1.
- "Accident record for Cuba". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- "Plane crash IL-62M near Havana (Cuba). 1977". en.avia.pro. Retrieved 2017-01-07.[unreliable source?]
- Anne Summers and David Marr, "One white man who won the trust of Aborigines", National Times (6–11 June 1977), p.24.
- "Flight Safety 1977 – Fatal accidents: Scheduled flights". Flight International: 182. 21 January 1978. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013.