Aviogenex Flight 130
An Aviogenex Tu-134, similar to that involved in the accident.
|Date||23 May 1971|
|Summary||Suffered hard landing due to pilot error, optical illusion|
|Aircraft type||Tupolev Tu-134A|
|Flight origin||Gatwick Airport, London, United Kingdom|
|Destination||Rijeka Airport, Rijeka, Croatia|
Aviogenex Flight 130 was an international charter passenger flight from Gatwick Airport, London, to Rijeka Airport in Croatia (then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). On 23 May 1971, the Tupolev Tu-134A, the aircraft servicing the flight, suffered structural failure during its landing phase. The aircraft flipped over and caught fire, killing 78 people on board. The crash became the first accident of Tupolev Tu-134 since entering regular service.
British counterpart assisted in the investigation and later found that the crew of the flight might have suffered an optical illusion in which they thought that the runway was closer than it was. Rainy condition at the time of the accident caused this illusion, which led the crew to execute a premature descent.
The aircraft had a serial number 1351205 and a total of 111 airframe hours at the time of the crash.The machine was almost new. It was imported to Yugoslavia on 23 April 1971 and an airworthiness certificate was issued on 27 April. 
Passengers and crews
There were 76 passengers and 7 crew members on board Flight 130. Flight 130 was transporting British tourists who were traveling on holiday to Rijeka, the third largest city in Croatia (at the time part of the Yugoslavia). 72 passengers were British tourists, while the others were Yugoslav. Among the passengers were Yugoslav poet Josip Pupačić. He was travelling with his wife and daughter. All of them perished in the crash. 
The captain of the flight was 41 year old Miloš Markićević. He held an IFR rating and had flown a total of 87 flight. He had accumulated a total flying hours of 9,230 hours in which 138 hours were on the Tupolev Tu-134A. The co-pilot was 34 year old Stevan Mandić. He had accumulated a total flying hours of 2,300 hours, in which 899 hours were on the type. A trainee, Viktor Tomić, had a 99-hour experience. He was supervised by 39-year-old flight engineer Ivan Čavajda which had accumulated a total flying hours of 7,500 hours, of which 1,373 were on the Tu-134. The cabin crew consisted of flight attendants Alma Svoboda, Mira Miše and Mirjana Janković.
The aircraft took off from Gatwick at 16:33 GMT. The flight proceeded normally until approach to Rijeka Airport. The crew followed the ILS with a slightly increased speed. Four kilometers from the runway threshold, at an altitude of about 300 metres (980 ft) above the sea level, the aircraft entered into torrential rain. The crew instantly activated the windscreen wipers. Fifty seconds before the touchdown the aircraft was lifted upwards and rolled to the right. Due to challenging conditions the crew could not return to ILS approach, but managed to align the aircraft with the runway. However, the aircraft was above the glide path while the crew was trying to reduce speed by elevator and reducing thrust. At a distance of 800 m from the runway the power was reduced to idle and the elevator was put down. The aircraft then entered into a gradually steeping angle of descent. Due to an optical illusion the crew thought they were closer to the runway and at a greater altitude than they actually were. The aircraft landed at a speed of 140 knots (260 km/h) and then the right wing broke. The aircraft turned over and burst into flames.
All passengers and crews initially survived the initial impact. A fire then started on the left wing and on the tail. Thick smoke immediately entered the cabin of the aircraft. Panicked passengers then attempted to evacuate from the burning wreckage. They had difficulties due to the fact that electrical supply was cut off immediately after the impact, worsened by the thick smoke and night condition. There were two groups of passengers; the first one was ordered to check if the passengers could be evacuated through the rear portion, while the second was ordered to check the front cabin. Both groups realized that doors on the rear and the front could not be opened due to the severity of the impact. As the fire intensified, passengers tried to break the window of the cabin with an axe. It didn't break, instead it caused air to enter the cabin, worsening the fire. The cabin crew members could only move the passengers to the front portion. The four crew members evacuated through the right window of the pilot. The engineer of the flight, Ivan Čavajda, had tried to help the passengers and the cabin crews to evacuate, but the cockpit door wouldn't open.
Rescue services arrived just minutes after the crash. Their attempt to extinguish the flames were hindered by the rainy condition at the time, which washed the foam. The wind condition only worsened the condition. The wind was blowing from the tail to the nose, which slowed down the rescue operation.
The cabin crews and the passengers managed to partially open the forward service door, but by then the smoke was too thick and most of the passengers and cabin crews had fallen unconscious due to carbon monoxide poisoning. One passenger, Ranko Sarajčić, managed to self-evacuate through an opening on the rear portion of the plane. Ranko had told others to follow him. However, due to the panic inside the cabin, none did. Twelve minutes after the aircraft had stopped, the fire in the cabin contacted the oxygen equipments, causing a massive explosion in the front of the aircraft. All four crew members in the cockpit survived, but of the 76 passengers there was only one survivor, Ranko Sarajčić. According to investigators, at least 30% of the bodies were found with their seat belts remained fastened. 
The accident was investigated by the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch. After 2 years and 6 months a report was released on 1 December 1973. At the time of the crash, the weather in the airport was rainy. As Flight 130 flew through the rain, refraction of light on the cockpit windshield caused an illusion that the runway is closer than it actually is. This could cause the crew to think that during the approach for landing, at a distance of one mile, the runway seems 200 ft (60 meters) lower than it actually is. This illusion caused the crew to apply a nose down input and reduced to flight idle when the aircraft was 800 meters from the runway. The nose down input caused the aircraft to reach an airspeed of 310 km/h. The aircraft touched down on the runway at a speed of 260 km/h, it then broke up and burst into flames. The AAIB then issued a recommendation to study with pilots the possible illusions that could be encountered during landing in heavy rain.
- Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363, plane crash in Russia which was caused by tunnel vision
- Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771, plane crash in Libya which was caused by somatogravic illusion
- Gulf Air Flight 072, plane crash in Bahrain which was caused by somatogravic illusion
- "Катастрофа Ту-134А YU-AHZ Aviogenex 23.05.1971" (in Russian). ruWings. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Aviogenex Aircraft TU-134 A, YU-AHZ. Report on the Catastrophy which occurred at 'RIJEKA' Airport, Yugoslavia, on 23 May 1971" (PDF). Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "72 Die In Yugoslav Air Crash". Daily News. 24 May 1971. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Odlazak prema nepoznatoj zvijezdi - ZG-magazin". 24 February 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "KAKO SE DOGODILA DRUGA NAJGORA AVIONSKA NESREĆA U HRVATSKOJ Zrakoplov Aviogenexa na letu iz Londona kod Rijeke je uletio u oluju. Poginulo je 78 ljudi". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). 11 March 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2018.