Russian Sukhoi Superjet fleet not grounded despite second accident since 2011

World Today

Russia is in mourning after 41 died in an air disaster. It was the second accident involving a Sukhoi Superjet since it’s launch in 2011, but Russian officials say they will not be grounding the fleet. CGTN’s Lucy Taylor has details.

There won’t be a long search for plane wreckage this time. This journey ended almost where it started and investigators are already inside what’s left. They have flight recorders, fuel samples, and accounts from surviving passengers and crew, so they may know what happened, but not why. 

“The interstate aviation committee is carrying out an investigation,” said Russia’s Transport Minister, Yevgeny Ditrikh. “On behalf of the state commission, and myself personally, I want to express my condolences to the relatives of the victims and to those injured in this air catastrophe.”

The plane made a hard emergency landing soon after take off and then burst into flames on the runway. Some passengers, at the front of the aircraft managed to escape. A number of people have been admitted to the hospital and are being treated for smoke inhalation and burns.

Russia has said victims and their families will receive compensation, but for many people the more pressing concern is how to prevent any more crashes like this one and how they can be sure that Russia’s fleet of domestic aircraft is safe to fly.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a Russian-made aircraft used widely across the country. Its demo flight crashed in 2012, killing everyone on board, but Russia says there is “no reason” to speak of grounding the fleet.

“The investigation is pursuing several lines of inquiry,” said Investigative Committee Spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko. “Among them are whether the pilots, air traffic controllers and plane inspectors were sufficiently qualified, as well as aircraft malfunctions and adverse weather conditions.”

This plane had been travelling north to Murmansk, in the Arctic Circle.  The region has declared a period of mourning. Some of those who walked away have thanked airline crew for saving them, but many are asking what can be done to stop it from happening again.