Aeroflot Superjet-100 Returns To Moscow Following Apparent Depressurization

An Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Samara has had to return to Sheremetyevo Airport following an alleged depressurization issue. The Sukhoi Superjet was less than an hour into the flight, which left Moscow at 01:59 this morning, when it had to make a U-turn. As the second emergency landing by a Superjet 100 in just over a week, the incident is prompting questions about the safety of the plane.

Sukhoi Superjet 100
A Sukhoi Superjet 100 operated by Aeroflot had to return to Moscow. Photo: Aeroflot

A Sukhoi Superjet 100, operated by Aeroflot, has had to make an emergency landing shortly after departure from Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. Sources say that there was a depressurization problem in the cabin. Everyone on board is reported to have disembarked safely.

Sukhoi Superjet 100
This is the second incident this month involving an Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100. Photo: Aeroflot

As we all know, this is the second incident involving a Sukhoi Superjet in recent days. Just over a week ago, another Aeroflot operated Sukhoi Superjet made an emergency landing in Moscow, bursting into flames upon landing and causing the death of 41 passengers.

In the days following the incident, RBC reports that Aeroflot postponed or cancelled 11 flights on Superjet aircraft, suggesting they were concerned that there was an issue with the plane. This latest incident is bound to cause more worry for passengers, raising the question of whether the Superjet is safe to fly.

What happened?

The Sukhoi Superjet 100, operated by Aeroflot under flight number SU1206, was heading to the city of Samara earlier today. It departed Sheremetyevo Airport at just before 2am local time, but around 45 minutes into the flight the plane began to descend rapidly.

Aeroflot flight path
The flight path of SU1206. Image: FlightRadar24

Staying at around 10,000ft, the aircraft did an about turn and headed back to Sheremetyevo. It landed safely and all aboard are said to be safe and well.

The flight to Samara was cancelled, as was the return Samara – Sheremetyevo trip later in the day.

Although Aeroflot are yet to issue an official statement on the incident, a source speaking to Russian news agency TASS said that the issue was with a cockpit sensor. They said,

“At 02.30 Moscow Time a plane on flight SU1206 Moscow-Samara took off from Sheremetyevo Airport and the cockpit pressurization sensor went off,”

The SSJ100 is the short haul workhorse of the Aeroflot fleet. Photo: Aeroflot

Not the first time

It’s not the first time the Sukhoi Superjet has encountered this type of issue.

On April 26th this year, Sputnik News reported on another Sukhoi Superjet 100 was traveling from Riga to Moscow. Also operated by Aeroflot, the flight returned to the departure airport due to an issue with depressurization.

Sukhoi Superjet 100
The Sukhoi Superjet has been involved in a number of other depressurization incidents. Photo: Aeroflot

Again, in April 2013, Crime Russia reports that the depressurization alarm went off on a Sukhoi Superjet 100, this time on route from Dresden to Moscow. And the Aviation Safety Network further reports an incident in August 2012 when an Aeroflot Superjet suffered partial depressurization of the cabin when taking off from Kazan in Russia.

Should the Sukhoi Superjet be grounded?

As we’ve seen, it doesn’t take more than a couple of incidents to ground even the bestselling aircraft in the world. With numerous dodgy situations in its past, is there a fundamental problem with the Sukhoi Superjet?

Sukhoi Superjet 100
Should the Sukhoi Superjet 100 be banned? Photo: Wikimedia

Crime Russia reports that,

“Minister of Transport Yevgeny Dietrich said that his ministry has no reasons yet to suspend flights of Sukhoi Superjet 100. The Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) also is not going to restrict flights of these aircraft. Russian air carriers whose fleets include SSJ-100 don’t see any problem in their further usage.”

Despite the apparent confidence of both authorities and carriers, a petition posted on calling for a ban on the aircraft has already gathered almost 200,000 signatures. RFERL reports that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov comments that “only the competent aviation authorities” would be able to make a decision to ground the plane.

What do you think? Should Russia ban the Superjet before there’s another deadly crash?