Forty-one people died and eleven were injured after the emergency landing of an Aeroflot Superjet-100 in Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), Moscow, on May 5, 2019. An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the accident.
The plane, registered RA-89098, was to operate flight SU1492 to Murmansk, northern Russia and was carrying 73 passengers and five crew members.
Security footage of the airport reveals that the aircraft caught fire during the emergency landing. The plane bounced off the runway a first time before landing hard on its main landing gear. The gear collapsed and the engines met the runway, immediately catching fire.
Ничего себе он закозлил… Ад pic.twitter.com/WM2Ky9RrDH
— Руслан Левиев (@RuslanLeviev) May 5, 2019
A distressing video shot from a passenger seat shows the speed at which fire gained the inside of the aircraft, with smoke quickly entering the cabin.
— Ali Özkök (@Ozkok_) May 5, 2019
The Superjet-100 was still full of fuel, as it turned back only 30 minutes into its flight. The pilots decided to land heavy as they lost contact with the air traffic controllers and thus could not circle around Moscow to empty its tanks. The loss of radio communications has been attributed to the fact that the aircraft was struck by lightning.
Flightradar24 reports that radio contact with the air traffic controllers was lost at 18:11 local time, less than 10 minutes after take-off. Fourteen minutes later, the plane sent an emergency message.
“We took off, and lightning struck the plane, said Peter Egorov, one of the passengers quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda. “We almost lost consciousness from fear. The plane was jumping up and down like a grasshopper and caught fire on the ground.”
Several reports claim that the death of people in the tail section of the aircraft might have been due to panicking passengers attempting to get their belongings from overhead compartments, despite the flight crew instructions. Footage of the evacuation confirms that some survivors were carrying luggage. However, “the emergency evacuation of SSJ-100 passengers took 55 seconds, out of a 90 seconds standard,” according to Aeroflot official spokesman Maxim Fetisov.
Flights diverted to other Muscovite airports after traffic at Sheremetyevo International airport was suspended for the night. It resumed on the morning of May 6, 2019.
An investigation has been opened by the Russian Investigations Committee on the basis of “violation of the rules of traffic safety and operation of air transport, causing the death of two or more persons by negligence.” The black boxes were retrieved from the charred airframe in the morning of May 6, 2019. They should be analyzed by the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK).