Runway Inferno – Aeroflot Flight SU1492

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 onboard.

An Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 (Image – Wikimedia Commons)

As it climbed out from the airfield it was struck by lightning and began to suffer numerous electrical malfunctions. The Captain then made the decision 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. Indeed investigations have since uncovered that the G-force of the first impact was measured to be the equivalent of 2.55g.

The second touchdown occurred two seconds after the first, impacting the ground nose first three times, before becoming airborne once 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.

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In this image provided by Riccardo Dalla Francesca shows smoke rises from a fire on a plane at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday, May 5, 2019. (Riccardo Dalla Francesca via AP)

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.

‘Terrifying Ordeal’

On board that day was Flight Attendant Tatyana Kasatkina (34), who later spoke of the terrifying ordeal onboard. How she had kicked the plane’s door open and physically pushed passengers out onto the emergency slide to safety.

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Tatyana Kasatkina.

“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.

“People starting getting out of their seats and making for the exit while the jet was still travelling at high speed,” Ms Kasatkina said. “They were phoning relatives, screaming that the plane was burning and falling,”

“When the plane stopped, the evacuation immediately began. 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.”

Cabin Crew Heroes

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 commented: “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.”

Maxim Moiseev

Tragically, one crew member Maxim Moiseev, died trying to save people seated at the rear of the plane. He was just 22-years old.

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Maxim Moiseev (centre) pictured with some of his Aeroflot colleagues.

Moiseev had remained onboard attempting to help passengers escape the inferno and was killed in the blaze.

What had began as a routine flight ended in tragedy. 41 of the 78 people onboard were killed, including two children and FA Maxim Moiseev.

Reports from people on the aircraft later stated that the evacuation may have been severely hampered by passengers grabbing their hand-luggage as they evacuated. Video footage also show passengers with their carry-on bags as they exited the plane.

Time and time again crew remind passengers that in the unlikely event of an emergency, that all personal belongings should be left behind. Failure to comply with these instructions DOES cost lives and this tragic accident only emphasises that fact.

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The burnout wreckage lies beside the runway at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

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.

Pilot Charged

In December 2019 it was announced that the pilot in charge of Flight 1492 had been charged by a Russian Court. Authorities accused the captain of infringement of flight procedures and manuals.

During the investigation it was found that the pilot made several errors that would prove fatal.

  • Not avoiding the severe storm that was in the area at the time of departure.
  • Ignoring wind shear warnings when making the approach that highlighted the poor angle of attack.
  • Ignoring advice from the control tower to go around.
  • The pilot had never flown the Superjet in manual mode and actually had no authorisation to do so. Yet the aircraft was flown outside of aircraft and airport limits.

According to Flight Global, the pilot is ‘being charged with a crime relating to breaches of air transport safety rules which, as a result of negligence, resulted in two or more fatalities.’

But the Captain said that he was not to blame in the disaster. He explained that he was forced to fly the aircraft manually after it became unresponsive enough to make it difficult to control after the lighting strike.

Regardless of who is at fault for the accident, 41 people were tragically killed, including a cabin crew member who was just trying to do his job.

You can read more incredible stories of heroism in our industry in our ‘Angels of the Sky’ posts.

© by Dan Air

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