Aeroflot flight SU1492 crashes at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport

The aircraft involved in the accident. Photo: © Anna Zvereva

Aeroflot flight SU1492 to Murmansk, Russia, has crash-landed while returning to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, killing 41 people.

The flight was operated by a Sukhoi Superjet 100-95B, registered as RA-89098, which was delivered to Aeroflot in September 2017. It declared a general emergency shortly after takeoff and attempted to return to the airport in the Russian capital, where it crashed during landing at approximately 6:30 pm local time – 27 minutes after taking off.

Videos posted on social media show the aircraft engulfed in flames. The imagery shows that an evacuation process via the front doors, that lasted 55 seconds, was immediately started once the aircraft came to a stop. Local news agency Tass initially reported, citing emergency services, that at least 13 people have been killed in the accident. Later during the evening, Russia’s Investigative Committee stated that only 37 people out of the 72 passengers and six crew on board could be confirmed as survivors of the crash, resulting in up to 41 fatalities and a further 10 injuries.

While the reason for this crash is not yet known, it is being reported that the flight returned to Moscow due to control issues. The Sukhoi then went up in flames during an attempted emergency landing. Footage from security cameras shows that the jet first made a hard touch-down but became airborne for a short distance again and touched the runway for a second time, when the landing gear broke and a fire on the outside started. The aircraft then touched down a third time and came to a stand on the runway, where it fully burnt down.

Manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft released a statement, saying that the flight returned to Moscow after the pilots reported a ‘malfunction’. The company adds that the involved aircraft received its last scheduled maintenance check just a short time ago, in April 2019.

Russian authorities, including the Federal Air Transport Agency, as well as the Interstate Aviation Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have launched an investigation.

Following the accident, Sheremetyevo Airport (IATA code: SVO) was closed for a short period of time, forcing all inbound flights into holding patterns.

Aeroflot, the flag-carrier of Russia, operates 50 Sukhoi Superjets, with 100 more on order. The Russian-built aircraft type first entered commercial service in 2011. Since then, almost 150 frames have been delivered, to mostly Russia-based airlines.