Russian investigators are examining the crash landing of a passenger plane at an airport in Moscow that killed 41 people. The main focuses of the investigation involves a combination of pilot error, bad weather, technical faults, and failings among the ground staff.
The Aeroflot flight with 78 people on board burst into flames while making an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday. Authorities said that 37 of the passengers were able to escape from the sides as the rear of the plane was completely engulfed in flames, but the other 41 passengers perished during the event.
Russian transportation minister Yevgeny Dietrich told reporters that 41 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage of the craft on the runway.
The State Department also confirmed reports that at least one American was involved in the crash. He was named by friends as Jeremy Brooks, a 22-year-old from New Mexico. Brooks was traveling to the country on business, aiming to take on a job as a fishing guide.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, who handle major crimes, said the flight recorders were recovered from the wreckage and had been sent off for analysis.
Russian investigators are looking into several theories about what caused the disaster, including mishandled technical inspections, inexperienced pilots, bad weather, and general aircraft malfunction.
The plane, a Russian-built Sukhoi Superjet 100, was headed from Moscow to Murmansk but had to turn back due to unspecified “technical difficulties” within 30 minutes, as the pilot requested an emergency landing.
The fire on the plane didn’t break out until the aircraft reached the runway. CCTV footage that aired on Russian state television showed that the fuselage of the plane bounced off the runway, which appeared to cause the left engine to explode.
It is not known what caused the pilots to attempt the emergency landing. There were some reports that the plane encountered bad weather and was hit by lightning.
Popular Russian social media news messenger Baza published an interview with who they said was the pilot of the plane, Denis Yevdokimov, in which the pilot described losing radio communications and partial autopilot when the craft was struck by lightning.
Yevdokimov said that the fire happened after landing. When asked why he had landed so hard, he explained that he thought he was going at the standard speed and didn’t know why it landed so hard.
A stewardess from the flight – Tatiana Kasatkina – spoke to Russian television and said that the plane was hit by lightning. One of the passengers – Pyotr Egorov – backed up this claim. However, these accounts have not been verified.
The flight attendants of the flight have been praised for helping people escape. They remained calm and guided people to the evacuation slides. Russian media hailed Maksim Moiseyev – a 22-year-old flight attendant – after it emerged that he died after staying on the plane to attempt to open the rear doors to allow more people to escape.
Questions about the accident were focused on the model of the plane. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 – the first Russian passenger jet developed since the Soviet Union – has a checkered past. It hasn’t been purchased much outside of Russia due to worries about its reliability and safety record.
In 2017 the Russian aviation authority ordered all Superjets in the country to be inspected due to issues with the horizontal stabilizers. The main foreign user of the aircraft, Interjet from Mexico, reportedly tried to return the planes recently after grounding several of them.
The Investigative Committee has opened up a criminal probe into the crash to determine if there were safety violations involved.