26 Aug 2019 19:33

Aide to head of UAC accuses Aeroflot of trying to discredit SSJ-100 after May tragedy at Sheremetyevo

MOSCOW. Aug 26 (Interfax) - Boris Alyoshin, an aide to the head of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), has accused Aeroflot of trying to discredit the Sukhoi Superjet 100 following the May crash-landing at Sheremetyevo Airport.

"There shouldn't be a discussion in a unilateral format, where a disaster took place, and suddenly Aeroflot told the whole world that the plane is junk and crap, to put it in plain Russian, and that the plane was to blame for everything," Alyoshin said at the Eurasian Aerospace Congress in Moscow on Monday.

"We, industry, showed maximum tact; we didn't say a word about Aeroflot, the pilots, training at Aeroflot, or the problems that Aeroflot itself engendered due to its incompetent management, because the investigation needed to be completed, and until it is, no one has the right to throw around any accusations, much less in the entire international press. So this is also a question of the discrediting [of the SSJ-100], you see," Alyoshin said.

An Aeroflot SSJ-100 en route from Moscow to Murmansk returned to Sheremetyevo, crash-landed, and caught fire on May 5. The crash killed 41 of the 78 people on board. Investigators believe the cause of the accident may have been pilot error, a mechanical failure, bad weather, or other circumstances.

Aeroflot has not officially commented on the reasons for the tragedy but has repeatedly called on the media not to draw conclusions until the International Aviation Commission finishes its investigation. In June, following the publication of the IAC's preliminary report, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said that the pilot could have continued the flight without returning to Sheremetyevo, as the plane's systems were working properly.

"I can say that the tentative report confirms, with respect to equipment, that the systems were working properly, except at the moment when ball lightning hit the plane, when the autopilot went off. But the system was working well enough that the pilot had the possibility of continuing the flight with all systems working," Manturov said.

Alyoshin also said on Monday that industry has a number of complaints about Aeroflot as the operator of the SSJ-100. "I'm telling you, the lot of the manufacturer is that the customer is always right, so we keep quiet, but we have something to say! And today industry has at least as many complaints about Aeroflot, and maybe even more, than Aeroflot has about us, especially with regard to their management. I'm telling you," he said.

"Until last month, in the entire history of the operation of the Superjet, Aeroflot hadn't settled its accounts for the delivery of spare parts once. Not once! This was the first amount sent for settlement. And only for mutual settlement. And the contract was designed in such a way that the less Aeroflot flies, the more we owe," Alyoshin said.