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Monday, August 26, 2013

BREAKING : UPDATE : Russian Sukhoi Demonstration Flight Crashes into Indonesian Mountain - Video

UPDATE:  Russian Sukhoi on demo flight crashes into mountain - No Survivors

The 5th Estate
By Robert S. Finnegan

"There is a problem, the original flight manifest was on the plane." - Indonesian official.

Bogor, Indonesia -

A Russian Sukhoi Superjet that disappeared on a demonstration flight in Indonesia on Wednesday has been located about 60 kilometers south of Jakarta on Mt. Salak.   Rescue personnel report finding bodies but no survivors.  It is believed all aboard perished and it now appears that the original flight manifest was aboard the plane with an Indonesian official.

Sukhoi Superjet crash site on Mt. Salak
There is still confusion as to exactly who was on the plane and the exact number of the dead.

"We haven't found survivors," Gagah Prakoso, spokesman of the search and rescue team, told Indonesia's Metro TV.

The Russian Superjet was carrying Indonesians including journalists and businessmen, eight Russians including embassy officials, pilots and technicians, as well as two Italians, one French citizen and one American, said Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk, the head of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft.

The plane took off on it's second demonstration flight of the day from Halim Perdanakusuma airport, east of Jakarta, after the first flight where some passengers disembarked in time for Muslim prayers and were left behind, according to Sunaryo from Sukhoi's Indonesian agent PT Trimarga Rekatama. Others who had not planned to fly got on board.
Russia has said it will participate in the investigation of the crash of its first all-new passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union, a Superjet 100 aircraft.

Indonesian Marines preparing for recovery mission
Rescue helicopters spotted debris on the side of Mount Salak, a dormant volcano on Thursday, sending rescue  personnel across steep and heavily forested terrain to reach the site on foot.

A rescue official stated that radio contact with the aircraft was lost at about 0800 GMT on Wednesday after it descended to 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) near Mount Salak, which rises to 7,254 feet (2,200 metres) above sea level.

In a picture taken from the helicopter of the Sukhoi debris appeared to show that the plane hit the top of a wall of rock and debris could be seen scattered down an exposed stretch of cliff.

The cause of the crash was not known.

Approximate crash site of Sukhoi Superjet; there are no survivors
An Indonesian pilot who has flown over 33,000 hours, said on Thursday he strongly believes the accident was caused by human error.

“I can’t help but wonder myself, why did the pilot ask to descend to 6,000 feet? That’s a violation of the minimum obstacle clearance altitude [MOCA]. In that location, the minimum clearance is around 11,000 feet,” Indonesian media quotes Ronny Rosnadi as saying on Thursday.

“The plane was supposed to descend to a lower altitude only when it neared a point south of Pangandaran beach. That’s much safer,” he added.

“He could have been overconfident, or just fatigued,” said the Merpati Nusantara Airlines pilot. “The pilot was doing a promotional flight and that’s tiring.”

Distraught survivors have many questions

Rosnadi said the Russian pilot might have been in an unstable condition while flying the jet.

Rosnadi said a downdraft, a strong wind that blows during seasonal changes, might have been another possible cause of the plane crash.  Or maybe the pilot’s vision was blocked by a thick fog that prevented him from seeing anything coming ahead of him, he suggests.

Russian flight security expert and pilot Vladimir Gerasimov stated that he analyzed the facts and came to the same conclusion.

“The jet crashed into a mountain in poor weather conditions,” he told Russia’s RBK (RosBusinessConsulting) media company. “It means it descended lower than was safe. There are minimum obstacle clearance altitudes for smooth terrain, hilly terrain and mountainous terrain. If a jet crashes, this means it has broken safety altitude regulations. If the wreckage is located within one-and-a-half kilometers from the last point of communication with air traffic control – this means just seconds of flight. It was a controllable flight. The crew did not report on any possible technical failure. This means we are talking not about the jet, but about the pilots. The pilots’ error.”

Gerasimov is convinced the investigators should also consider the crew’s qualifications for international flights and had they been on similar flights before, did they study the terrain and were they fluent in the English language, with is the international standard for flying.

Both Indonesian and Russian Presidents have weighed in on the crash, with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stating  "The airplane crashed at the edge of Salak Mountain.  An investigation must be done immediately and thoroughly," and newly-elected President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian representatives to take part in the investigation, offering his "profound condolences" in a statement on the Kremlin's website. 

Russians Say Pilot Error Likely Responsible

"Experts are saying that the plane has been working impeccably well and that possibly it was human error," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters while travelling with Putin in Nizhny Tagil in Russia's Ural mountains.  He called the superjet a "reliable, competitive machine."

Russian test pilot Anatoly Knyshov  believes that the Sukhoi was piloted by an experienced crew, but they were not trained on the onboard equipment properly. There is a also a possibly, he says, that the pilots did not get enough information about weather conditions and terrain.

Modern aircraft are equipped with sound and voice alerts, along with color marking of dangerous areas on the weather radar screen. "When they fly over flat countryside – a green light [comes on], over mountains and dangerous areas – a red," explained Knyshov. "Apparently, this system did not work, was not brought to perfection, or something went wrong. In my opinion, thunderstorm activity – static discharge – could lead to failure of the system. This means that the crew had no information about the actual state of things,” he said.

Pilot AlexanderYablontsev had 10,000 flight hours on the Superjet
Russian officials suggested the crash was caused by pilot error rather than a technical failure. The plane was Russia's flagship jet and Moscow will hope the crash will not reduce confidence in its civilian aircraft industry.  The Italian-led venture responsible for marketing the plane to the West, Superjet International said on its website that Sukhoi's chief civil test pilot Alexander Yablontsev and his co-pilot Alexander Kochetkov had been flying the plane.  Yablontsev has10,000 flight hours on the Superjet.

Superjet International planned to sell 42 planes to Indonesia, in order to tap into Indonesia's fast-expanding aviation market by targeting the growing middle class in the world's fourth-most populous nation.

The Sukhio was developed with Western design and technology.

A recovery operation to evacuate remains from the mountainside is to be initiated on May 11.

The fact that the original flight manifest was on the plane and the actual number of passengers still in question will serve to hamper the investigation even as it gets underway.

The 5th Estate will continually update this breaking story as it receives verified information.

* * *

A Russian Sukhoi Superjet on a demonstration flight over Indonesia has disappeared and is feared lost over the jungle of this 17,000 island archipelago.

Sukhoi Superjet
Reported aboard the Superjet were 44 people, including eight Russians.  Radio contact was said by Indonesian aircraft controllers to have been lost at 6,200 ft. while the plane was over dense jungle.

The 5th Estate will continue to bring you updates on this breaking story as they come in.

This from CNN:

[Updated at 7:34 a.m. ET] Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan told Metro TV the Sukhoi jet went missing at about 2 p.m. local time in the area of Bogor, West Java.

The jet was on a demonstration flight that should've lasted 30 minutes, taking off and expected to land again in Jakarta's Halim airport. About 46 people were onboard he said.

National Search and Rescue Agency official Gagah Prakosa said on Metro TV that there was an initial search by air that's been suspended because of darkness. A ground search continues.

[Updated at 7:24 a.m. ET] Russia's newest civilian airliner disappeared Wednesday from radar screens during a demonstration flight in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, state-run Ria Novosti news service reported. There were 44 passengers on board.

The pilots descended from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet, air traffic controllers said. After that, all radio contact was lost.

The plane began making its descent but vanished from radar screens at 6,200 feet in a mountainous area. By the time the plane was due to return it should have burned up its fuel, RIA Novosti said.

The Sukhoi Superjet-100 airplane arrived in Jakarta as part of a demonstration tour of six Asian countries.

It had been to Myanmar, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, and was due to visit Laos and Vietnam after Indonesia, RIA Novosti said.

Sukhoi manufactures military aircraft and is known especially for its fighter jets. Its civilian aircraft is narrow-bodied with a dual-class cabin that can transport 100 passengers over regional routes.



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