Aviation

Plane struck by lightning before fiery crash: report

A preliminary report on the tragic Aeroflot plane crash that killed 41 people last month has found the aircraft was struck by lightning.

The report, put together by the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), found that while the plane was flying through an active thunderstorm area prior to the crash, the flight crew didn’t request clearance to avoid the area unlike other aircraft.

This was despite the first officer and captain commenting on lightning flashes prior to take-off.

Before the plane was struck by lightning, the captain was recorded as saying “we are going to get shaken” but that there was “nothing to worry about”.

According to the report, an “atmospheric electricity impact affected the aircraft” less than a minute later, with autopilot being disengaged and one radio channel failing.

The captain then requested to return to Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, but didn’t flag the landing as an emergency, telling the controller that “so far everything is normal, standard”.

The report also found that the aircraft was 1,600 kilograms too heavy for landing, and that no pre-landing briefing nor checklist for the “approach” was conducted. Furthermore, a “windshear” warning was dismissed by the crew.

The report said the plane’s bouncy touchdown caused its main landing gear to collapse, leading to a “structural disintegration with fuel spillage and fire”.

However, the IAC noted the report “does not indicate the causes of the fatal accident”, with the committee to undertake further work with the Russian government.

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