Aeroflot Flight 721

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Aeroflot Flight 721
IL-18 Szeremietiewo.jpg
A preserved former Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-18, similar to the crashed aircraft
Accident summary
Date September 2, 1964
Summary Controlled flight into terrain
Site Near Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Passengers 84
Crew 9
Fatalities 87
Survivors 6
Aircraft type Ilyushin Il-18V
Operator Aeroflot
Registration CCCP-75531
Flight origin Sheremetyevo International Airport, Moscow
1st stopover Khabarovsk Novy Airport, Khabarovsk
Last stopover Krasnoyarsk Yemelyanovo Airport, Krasnoyarsk
Destination Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Aeroflot Flight 721 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight between Moscow and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in Soviet Russia. On Wednesday, September 2, 1964, the aircraft flying this route, an Ilyushin Il-18, crashed into the side of a hill on approach to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, killing 87 of the 93 people on board. At the time, it was the deadliest Il-18 crash and the deadliest aviation accident on Russian soil.[1]


The aircraft involved was an Ilyushin Il-18V turboprop airliner registered CCCP-75531. At the time of the accident, it had only been in service for about a year and had logged merely 1,269 total flight hours.[1]


Flight 721's route led it eastward across Russia from Moscow to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, with stopovers in Khabarovsk and Krasnoyarsk. As it neared Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the flight crew, rather than complete the standard approach pattern, requested permission for a direct approach, which was granted. As the aircraft descended, it crashed into a wooded hillside at an elevation of about 2,000 feet, killing all nine crew members and 78 of the 84 passengers.

The official report cited pilot error and poor in-flight planning as the cause of the accident; the crew initiated descent prematurely and apparently did not have sufficient knowledge of approach conditions, and these factors combined ultimately led to the crash.[1]