The flight was Aeroflot SU1492 – plane registration number RA-89098. The flight was a daily service from Moscow to Murmansk. It was initially thought that the plane was already on fire when it landed. However, Russian news agency Interfax is reporting that the fire began after an extremely bumpy landing. The same report indicates that fuel tanks were full as crew made the decision that it was too dangerous to dump fuel over Moscow.
According to the Aviation Herald, the majority of occupants were able to evacuate using both front door emergency slides. The flight crew made their evacuation using escape ropes through the cockpit windows. Emergency services rushed to the scene immediately.
Many reports say that the initial cause of the emergency landing was lightning striking the plane. Speaking to Komsomolskaya Pravda daily newspaper, Petr Egorov said:
“[the flight] had just taken off and the aircraft was hit by lightning…the landing was rough – I almost passed out from fear.”
Andrey Chibis, Acting Governor of Murmansk, has reportedly said that families of victims will each receive one million rubles ($15,300). Victims being treated in hospital will receive 500,000 rubles ($7,650).
Photos and video on social media
Dramatic photos and video going up on twitter show black smoke rising from the flaming aircraft as ambulances arrive at the scene.
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) May 5, 2019
Первые секунды после посадки горящего борта в Шереметьево. Люди, спасшиеся из самолёта, бегут по полосе pic.twitter.com/j3lcDnvtEF
— baza (@bazabazon) May 5, 2019
Pilots declared an emergency shortly after taking off from Sheremetyevo but after 27 minutes in the air, made a return. Below is the flight path as recorded by FlightRadar24.
After extinguishing the fire it was clear that the tail as well as most of the rear fuselage was completely on fire. This particular aircraft was relatively new, reportedly made in 2017 or 2018.
A criminal investigation on this incident has begun and the black box has been given to the investigating agency.
About the aircraft
The Sukhoi Superjet is a Russian-built aircraft that the manufacturer claims “offers standards of economy, performance, environmental efficiency and passenger comfort never before seen in a 100-seat airliner.”
The aircraft’s entry into service was in mid-2011 while European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Type Certificate came in 2012. To date, 148 aircraft of this type have been delivered, according to Wikipedia.
The manufacturer is officially goes by the name “Superjet International” and is a joint venture of Italy’s Leonardo Company and Russia’s Sukhoi Holding Company.
Other accidents and incidents
In the last ten years there have been a handful of accidents involving Aeroflot aircraft. In 2009, a Boeing 737 suffered severe damage by a hailstorm and was subsequently written-off. In 2014 an Ilyushin Il-96 had damage beyond repair while parked at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport.
Most recently, on 3rd January 2017, an Airbus A321 overran the runway on landing at Khrabrovo Airport, causing the nose gear to collapse resulting in minor damage. In fact, today’s incident is the first Aeroflot flight suffering fatalities since a 2008 crash killed 88 passengers and 6 crew members.
Several weeks ago an aircraft from another Russian airline UTair caught fire. However, in a very unexpected response, the airline claimed that fire coming from the engine of their 737 was a regular situation and that the plane was still “fully operational”.
We originally posted this story at around 1800 GMT on May 5th and it was last updated on May 6th at 0628 GMT.