An Aeroflot airliner, a Sukhoi Superjet 100, crashed in Moscow on Sunday killing 41 of the 78 aboard the regional airliner. Initial reports are that the plane was struck by lightning, but authorities have not confirmed that report.
The jet had just taken off from Sheremetyevo but didn’t make it far, with the pilots reporting technical problems and requesting a return to the airport.
The plane circled twice over the city and then attempted to land what seems from the video of the incident to be a severely compromised plane traveling at what looks to be too fast a speed for landing. The plane, which, again, looks to be out of control, hit tail first and immediately burst into flames. Reports are that it was the plane’s second attempt at a landing, the first one having been rejected when the airspeed was too fast to land. Why the pilots could not control the airspeed on that attempt or on their subsequent crash landing is something investigators will be looking at.
According to survivors, who escaped the burning jet via the front emergency slide, the plane’s flight attendants were heroic, at one point even grabbing a slow passenger by the collar and shuttling him out the door. One flight attendant died in the crash.
The flight recorders have been recovered and investigators are already analyzing them. Was there indeed a lightning strike? If so, was there damage to the plane and what systems were compromised? Investigators hope the recorders have some answers.
This was the second crash of a Superjet 100, the other taking place in 2012 during a demonstration flight when the plane hit a mountainside. Investigators concluded that pilot error caused that accident.