The concept of airplanes “drawing” something in the sky with their flight paths is nothing new — we saw EL AL draw a 747 in the sky for its last 747 flight, Qantas draw a kangaroo in the sky for its last 747 flight, Virgin Atlantic draw a heart in the sky for Valentine’s Day, and more.
Well, a few weeks ago I wrote about a different kind of “drawing” in the sky, and there’s now an update, as someone has been fired.
A Pobeda 737’s suspicious maneuvers
This incident happened on November 11, 2020, and involves low cost carrier Pobeda, which is Aeroflot’s wholly owned subsidiary. A Boeing 737-800 was operating flight DP407 from Moscow to Yekaterinburg, which ordinarily has a flight time of just over two hours.
However, this flight was different. About three quarters of the way into the flight, the pilots requested permission to perform some air maneuvers because they claimed they needed to check their radio navigation equipment.
At that point the six year old Boeing 737 started making some turns, which lasted for about 20 minutes. Notice anything unusual about the path that the plane used to check radio navigation equipment?
Let’s zoom in a bit.
Wait a minute, that kind of looks like a…
But why would pilots do this?
One might assume that the above is just a funny, phallic coincidence. But there appears to be motive here — people quickly caught onto this possibly being an act of solidarity with the captain of Russia’s national football team.
Artem Dzyuba was recently temporarily suspended from the team after footage emerged that allegedly showed him masturbating in bed. He was being taunted by fans during matches, so the team felt like they had no choice given all the negativity surrounding him. The theory was that this was an attempt at showing solidarity with him.
What did the investigation determine?
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency has just completed an investigation into the incident, and we now have some answers… though frankly we also have more questions.
Here’s what’s being claimed about the situation, according to RBC:
- It was determined that this maneuver wasn’t necessary, and was in fact an attempted display of “solidarity”
- It was decided that this “was a consequence of the failure of the Pobeda leadership to develop and maintain a safety culture, which should determine the absolute priority of flight safety issues”
- It was discovered that there was an attempt on November 10 to perform a similar maneuver on a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg; the crew claimed it needed to perform maneuvers to practice draining fuel, but this request was denied (ironically this wasn’t even something the plane was capable of, so that seemed like a poorly thought out lie)
- Pobeda’s director of flight operations, Denis Petrikov, has been fired over the incident; furthermore, Pobeda’s general director, Andrey Kalmykov, has been reprimanded, but not fired
It’s not entirely clear to me if management was in any way involved with this deviation, or if the director of flight operations was simply a scapegoat since one of “his” pilots did this. Furthermore, it’s not clear if and how the pilots were reprimanded, and also whether it was the same pilots who attempted to do this on November 10, or if it was a different set of pilots.
In November, a Pobeda 737 performed phallic-like maneuvers during a domestic flight, with pilots claiming that this was being done to check radio navigation equipment.
After an investigation, Pobeda’s director of flight operations was fired, as it was determined that this was indeed done in solidarity with a Russian footballer. It’s still not clear whether this action was undertaken by the pilots specifically, or if this was encouraged on a higher level.
What a story…