Russian S7 Airlines co-owner dies in private plane crash

D. Miller

A small private plane crashed on March 31, 2019, in western Germany, killing the pilot and two passengers, one of whom was co-owner of the Russian airline S7.

The Epic LT turboprop aircraft, registered RA-2151G, was carrying out a flight from Cannes Mandelieu Airport (CEQ), in France, to Frankfurt Egelsbach Airport (QEF), Germany. The plane was part of Globus Airlines fleet, a subsidiary of S7.

The 6-seater aircraft was on visual approach when it crashed into a field close to Frankfurt, burning down completely after the impact. The cause of the accident is being investigated by an international committee, including Russian investigators.

The identity of the passengers was confirmed by the airline in an official statement: “On March 31, 2019, Natalia Fileva, a S7 shareholder, was killed at the age of 55 during the descent of a private Epic-LT aircraft to a Frankfurt airport”. The pilot and the other passenger, believed to be Fileva’s father, also died in the crash.

Natalia Fileva, the fourth richest woman in Russia, was flying to Germany to receive medical treatment, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti. She was married to S7 AirSpace Corporation chairman, Vladislav Filev.

S7 AirSpace Corporation, formerly known as S7 Group, is the largest private aviation holding company in Russia. It encompasses about 15 companies, including S7 Airlines (also known as Siberia Airlines) and its regional subsidiary Globus Airlines. S7 Airlines operates a fleet of 96 aircraft and flies to almost 150 destinations, according to its website. It is the second biggest airline of Russia after Aeroflot in terms of passenger traffic.

In April 2018, the group acquired Sea Launch spacecraft service company and its maritime launch platform Odyssey, thus becoming the country’s first aerospace company. However, Odyssey was exclusively built to operate the Zenit launch vehicle, a type of rocket manufactured by the Ukrainian Yuzhnoye Design Office. But as relations between Kyiv and Moscow are more tensed following the events of 2014, S7 must now find an alternative to the Zenit to start using its platform. The new strategy of the subsidiary named “S7 Space” was to be officially revealed in a near future. Following Fileva’s death it is now to be postponed.

The Epic LT is a 6-place amateur-built turbo-prop airplane which has yet to be certified by its constructor, Epic Aircraft. The Oregon-based manufacturer was acquired by S7 Technics in 2012.

In 2012, Frankfurt Egelsbach Airport was qualified as “one of the most dangerous in Europe” by Der Spiegel, which was reporting another fatal crash on the site. This is mostly due to the lack of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) and a very short runway. With 80,000 take-offs and landings per year on average, it is the busiest regional airport in Germany. In 2009, Warren Buffett’s company NetJets acquired an 80% share of the airport. For a decade, an extension of the runway by an additional 270 meters has been discussed, but has yet to be executed.

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