Former Sukhoi designer Lukashevich blames SSJ-100 pilots for human casualties in Sheremetyevo crash
MOSCOW. May 15 (Interfax) - The crash of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 in Sheremetyevo on May 5 was caused by a pilot's error, former Sukhoi aircraft designer Vadim Lukashevich said.
The plane is safe and its operation should not be halted, he said.
"The events that led to such tragic events involved the pilots' errors," Lukashevich told a press conference on Wednesday.
Initially, there were very many statements that the operation of the planes needs to be halted, he said.
"Very little was known at that moment. They said all automatic equipment had gone off after [the lighting strike], there was no radio signal, and it was unclear what was going on," Lukashevich said.
Initially, it seemed that the crewmembers' actions were correct and had helped save many lives, he said.
"But when the transcripts appeared, when it became clear that the situation was not catastrophic, it became clear that the pilots are to blame for the death of 41 people," the former Sukhoi aircraft designer said.
Lukashevich said Sukhoi Superjet 100 planes had been hit by lightings 13 times before the May 5 tragedy and no people had died in those incidents.
Lukashevich said the plane had caught fire after touching the runway for a third time and "nothing was rushing the pilots in the air."
The expert also said the plane captain had given the wrong alarm signal.
"The pilots gave the Pan-Pan alarm signal, which shows that there is no direct threat to the passengers or the crew. If they had given the signal Mayday, there would have been foam on the runway by the moment of the landing, there would have been firefighters and ambulances," he said.
The expert also said "there are many questions to the aerodrome services."
The Aeroflot SSJ-100, traveling from Moscow to Murmansk, returned to Sheremetyevo on the evening of May 5, where it made an emergency landing and crashed. There were 78 people, including five crewmembers, aboard. Forty-one people aboard were killed.
The Main Directorate for Investigations into Especially Important Cases of the Russian Investigative Committee is now investigating a criminal case involving violations of the safety regulations governing aircraft operation.
The Russian Transport Ministry sees no reasons for the suspension of Sukhoi Superjet 100 commercial flights after the Sheremetyevo crash, Transport Minister Yevgeny Ditrich said.
Russian Public Chamber Secretary Valery Fadeyev said the idea of banning the operation of the Superjet 100 is irresponsible. "It is irresponsible, to say the least, to demand a ban on its operation. It would mean the death, the destruction of Russian civil aircraft construction," he said.
Lukashevich worked as an aircraft designer for the Sukhoi Design Bureau (Section 14 Combat Survivability) in 1985-1992 and took part in the creation of fighter jets.