On May 5, 2019 Aeroflot Flight SU1492 a scheduled passenger flight from Moscow to Murmansk, Russia crashed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport after attempting to make an emergency landing.
The Russian-built Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SJ100) had taken off from the airport at 18:02 local time with 73 passenger and five crew members on board and was climbing out from the airfield when it was struck by lightning.
The aircraft then began to suffer a number of electrical malfunctions and so the captain decided to return to the airport.
Around ten minutes after take-off the jet was back at Sheremetyevo, hitting the tarmac hard before bouncing back in to the air. The second touchdown occurred two seconds after the first, with the SJ100 impacting the ground nose first three times before bouncing in to the air again.
The third and final impact had devastating consequences. Hitting the runway with a force in excess of 5g, the airliners landing gear penetrated the wings and spilled fuel out of the full tanks which immediately ignited and began to engulf the rear of the aircraft.
Horrified onlookers could only watch as the flaming jet slid down the runway, veered to the left and came to a standstill on the grass between two runway-adjoining taxiways.
On board that day was Flight Attendant Tatyana Kasatkina, 34 who later spoke of the terrifying ordeal, how she had kicked the plane’s door open and physically pushed passengers out onto the emergency slide to safety.
“We took off and got into a cloud and it was hailing. There was such a noise outside, as hail hit the plane. At that moment it was a popping, mainly on then left side. Everyone was looking at me. There was popping and a flash, like an electric flash. That must have been when the lighting hit us”
She added, “The flight deck informed us that we were returning to our home airport.” However, the plane’s internal communications malfunctioned, and she could barely hear the pilot as he ordered crew to prepare for an emergency landing.
“When the plane stopped, the evacuation immediately began,” she said. “The fire was visible. Everyone was shouting that we were on fire. But there was no fire inside the cabin at this moment. I kicked the door out with my leg and pushed out the passengers so as not to slow the evacuation. Just to hurry them up I grabbed each of them by the collar from the back.”
Kasatkina continued, “It was all so quick. The smoke was already black. The last people were crawling to get out. Everyone had jumped from their seats and moved forwards, although the plane was still moving at a good speed. I saw the first woman calling somebody on her phone and saying, ‘We are on fire, we are falling down”.
Survivors quickly credited the cabin crew for saving their lives, with one stating that he ‘nearly fainted from fear’.
Passenger Dmitry Khlebnikov said, “I thank God and the stewardesses who saved me. They were always with us, helping people to climb the slide and get out of the cabin full of smoke… It was dark and incredibly hot inside”.
Another passenger said, “It was dark there, with a high temperature. There was smoke. They were carrying the people out of there, helping them to go down the slide.”
Tragically, one crew member Maxim Moiseev, died trying to save people seated at the rear of the plane, he was 22 years old.
Moiseev had remained on board trying to help people escape the inferno and was killed in the blaze.
What had began as a routine flight ended in tragedy. 41 of the 78 people on board were killed in the accident, including two children and Maxim Moiseev.
Horrifyingly footage has now emerged of the terrifying crash and subsequent evacuation which you can watch below. Please be advised that the video is difficult to watch.
You can read more incredible stories of heroism in our industry in our ‘Angels of the Sky’ posts.
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