The Russian Antonov An-26 Crash – An Update

On Tuesday, July 6th, an Antonov An-26 belonging to Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise crashed on approach near Palana, Russia. The aircraft had been operating a flight from Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky to Palana, lasting just over two hours. With the disaster now four days old, let’s take a look at what new information has come to light since our last update.

Kamchatka Airlines Antonov An-26
The aircraft involved (pictured) was nearly 40 years old. Photo: Nikita Zhuravlev via Wikimedia Commons

Black box found

An important task in the sombre aftermath of a plane crash is locating the black boxes. These devices, which are actually painted orange to increase visibility at crash sites, collect data inflight that investigators can use to better understand what caused the disaster. The term black boxes refers collectively to the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.

These devices had not been recovered at the time of our last update, on July 8th, but those involved in the search have made a breakthrough. The Washington Post reports that they have located one of the black boxes, with fragments of another also found. The cliffside location of the crash had previously hindered search efforts, due to its terrain.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Antonov An-26 Crash Site
The crash blackened the cliffside and surrounding forest. Photo: via Wikimedia Commons

Moscow-bound for decoding

The Washington Post adds that it is initially unclear as to whether the recovered black box is the cockpit voice recorder or the flight data recorder. A source from the emergency services involved in the search efforts informed TASS Russian News Agency that the device in question had not been critically damaged by the crash. They added that:

A flight recorder has been found during the search operation. It will be decoded in Moscow. The search continues for the second flight recorder.

All bodies recovered

The Antonov An-26 involved in the crash had 28 occupants onboard at the time of the disaster. This figure consisted of 22 passengers and six crew members. Tragically, all 28 individuals lost their lives in the crash, which was not the first involving an An-26 this year.

Antonov An-26
28 people were onboard the An-26 when it crashed. Photo: Dmitriy Pichugin via Wikimedia Commons

This meant that, as well as searching for the two data recording devices, rescue workers also had to look for human remains. At the time of our last update, 19 bodies had been found, but the Washington Post has since reported that all 28 have been located. Explaining that the remains would be sent for DNA testing, an emergency services source told TASS that:

The rescuers were able to reach a remote point on the rock, where the An-26 plane fell. Body parts of all victims were discovered there. One person was identified by a tattoo.”

With the bodies having all been located, search teams will continue to look for the second black box (beyond the fragments they’ve already located). According to TASS, Friday’s efforts involved 72 people and 14 pieces of equipment. Those involved will hope that families of the victims can get some form of closure by having the remains identified as soon as possible.

What do you make of this incident and its latest updates? Have you ever flown on an Antonov An-26? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.