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Sukhoi ex-designer blames pilots for SSJ-100 crash at Sheremetyevo airport

May 15, 13:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

This incident with a lightning hitting the plane did not create a disastrous situation and all that the pilots had to do was to recall that they were pilots, Vadim Lukashevich said

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© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

MOSCOW, May 15. /TASS/. The pilots of the Sukhoi Superjet-100 airliner that burst into flames upon its landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, killing 41 people, are to blame for the plane’s crash as they committed a series of mistakes in an emergency but quite manageable situation, former designer at the Sukhoi Design Bureau Vadim Lukashevich said on Wednesday.

"This incident with a lightning hitting the plane did not create a disastrous situation and all that the pilots had to do was to recall that they were pilots. I believe that the incident is the result of a piloting mistake," the former designer said.

Over the entire history of the operation of SSJ-100 planes, a lightning hit them 13 times and these incidents did not result in any disasters. There were no tragedies involving human victims with these planes before the Sheremetyevo crash, except for the disaster of an SSJ-100 in Indonesia, which occurred due to ‘reckless’ piloting, the expert pointed out.

"Perhaps, I will make a bold statement but today the Sukhoi Superjet is the safest plane. All the attention is now riveted to it and this is why its flights have been cancelled lately," Lukashevich said.

The Sukhoi Superjet-100 has a European certificate, the ex-designer said. "At Sheremetyevo, the airliner actually fell from a height of a three-storey building: no airliner existing today would have endured such a landing," he said.

A Sukhoi Superjet-100 of the Aeroflot airline, which took off from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo for Murmansk on May 5, had to return to the airport in about 30 minutes after its flight, making an emergency landing and bursting into flames. There were 73 passengers and five crewmembers aboard the plane. A total of 41 people died in the air crash while 10 others were hospitalized.

Investigators have opened a criminal case into the violation of flight safety rules and aircraft operation that entailed the death of two and more people through negligence. Investigators are considering several versions of the incident, including the pilots’ insufficient skills, a technical failure and unfavorable weather conditions.

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