Yesterday evening an Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 had a crash landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. What initially looked to some to be a miracle has quickly turned into a massive tragedy.
While I’m not going to be providing play-by-play coverage of this incident, I did have a few things I wanted to say:
My thoughts are with those who passed
When this first unfolded the general consensus was that this was a happy story. We assumed the plane landed on fire, and initial reports suggested that there were only a handful of injuries, and everyone made it out alive. It sounded like the Russian version of the “miracle on the Hudson.”
Nope, that wasn’t the case at all, sadly. The plane had 78 people onboard (including five crew) and 41 died (including one crew). That’s heartbreaking, and makes all the footage of people escaping the plane all the harder to watch, since we know even more people were left behind.
Just absolutely awful…
The plane didn’t land on fire
The first video footage we saw of the incident suggested that the plane was on fire when it landed, in which case everyone was amazed it did as well as it did. Well, that’s not the case. Instead the plane had a really rough, “bouncy” landing, and at that point it caught fire. There’s even video showing the exact point this happened.
Видео с камер Шереметьево: "Суперджет" на большой скорости ударяется о полосу, подскакивает, после чего бьётся ещё раз и загорается. pic.twitter.com/zAncjmzBg5
— baza (@bazabazon) May 5, 2019
We’ll have to wait to find out exactly what caused that. We do know the plane was overweight when it landed, given that the Sukhoi Superjet can’t dump fuel, and had just taken off from Moscow. However, we don’t know exactly how that factored into what happened.
People didn’t leave their carry-on items behind
Whenever you take a flight you’ll hear an announcement to leave your carry-on items behind in the event of an emergency evacuation. Well, we have video footage of this plane being evacuated, and you know what people aren’t doing? They’re not leaving their carry-on items behind.
Первые секунды после посадки горящего борта в Шереметьево. Люди, спасшиеся из самолёта, бегут по полосе pic.twitter.com/j3lcDnvtEF
— baza (@bazabazon) May 5, 2019
I totally understand everyone was probably in complete shock and not thinking straight, but there’s a reason the rule exists. Here’s a case where taking carry-ons could have very well increased the death count.
The goal in an evacuation — especially one where the plane is burning to this degree — is to get everyone out as quickly as possible. Every second counts, and could be the difference between life and death.
It’s awful to think that some fatalities may have been caused by people selfishly taking their belongings with them.
Aeroflot has come a long way with safety
I’ve flown Aeroflot a couple of times, and was very impressed. To some the airline has a bad reputation, and I know a lot of people are hesitant to fly them, though I think that’s largely without merit.
While the airline didn’t have a great safety record back in the day, they’ve come a really long way — prior to this it had been 23 years since they’ve had any sort of fatal accident.
Everything being filmed is a blessing and a curse
It feels like in the past 12 months we’ve seen a lot more fatal accidents than in the years prior. I’m not suggesting anything is wrong with the industry on the whole (well, maybe other than the 737 MAX situation), but rather a series of circumstances have led to this.
The thing is, when fatal accidents happen, there’s not usually any video evidence of it. There’s some wreckage, and that’s it.
In this case we have an accident with dozens of deaths, and there are a countless number of videos of everything that happened. There are videos of the plane landing, videos from inside the plane, videos of the evacuation, etc.
I suppose the silver lining is that all of the videos will help investigators learn from this incident more quickly, but my gosh, in some ways this makes the accident all the worse.
For example, there’s video footage from inside the plane, and you have to think that 41 people in that same place weren’t able to make it out alive, and witnessed all of that as well.
Similarly, during the evacuation you see some people either standing at the exit door, or on the ground after having exited. I would imagine they’re waiting for family and friends who just never made it out.
There’s even footage of a passenger trying to climb back up the slide and into the plane.
Gut-wrenching doesn’t even begin to describe that…