A horrific new footage of the catastrophic air disaster struck, killing 41 people in Moscow, claiming that pilots made fundamental mistakes during the emergency because they could not land without the help of the autopilot.
The Aeroflot plane flies down the runway before bursting into a deadly fireball on May 5 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.
The footage was created when an expert claimed that the experienced captain Denis Evdokimov, who had been hospitalized as a result of the crash, had never manually flown the Sukhoi Superjet 100 in direct mode before the crash.
A lightning strike shortly after takeoff forced the pilots to an emergency landing, but this should not have led to the flames where dozens were burned alive or killed by toxic fumes, say key figures in Moscow.
The crash investigation tends to "pilot errors" at landing and leading Moscow experts say that "excessive dependency on the autopilot" on commercial flights is an issue that should be addressed by all major airlines.
Newly released footage shows the plane bouncing off the catwalk (above) before it breaks into flames
The captain and pilot of the plane, Denis Evdokimov, is being treated in a Moscow hospital
Despite the lightning strike, which hindered the aircraft's internal communications, an emergency landing in manual mode would have been relatively easy, according to the Kommersant newspaper, which cited sources in the official investigation.
Can aircraft land themselves?
Yes, an airplane can land on its own with a system often referred to as "autoland".
The pilots can program the autopilot to automatically make the landing while the pilots monitor the aircraft.
The autopilot is typically used to land in poor visibility when there is usually little or no wind.
Autolands can only be performed under strict conditions that require the certification of the aircraft, the pilot and the airport itself.
On an autoland approach, pilots check the speed and path of the aircraft to the runway and are ready to take control of the computers if a system failure occurs.
On some aircraft, on-board computers and systems can automatically track the runway's centerline after touchdown, apply the brakes and bring the aircraft to a safe taxi speed.
But "it was the pilots themselves who accelerated the plane dangerously just before the landing and brought it in addition to diving".
This made the situation "critical".
"Now it is to be examined which of the two pilots carried out the dangerous maneuver that cost 41 lives," explained Kommserant.
With autopilot systems, pilots can fully automate or partially control landing operations. They can also be switched off completely so that the pilot can take full control.
So-called auto-land systems direct the aircraft on the asphalt lines at approved airports onto the runway. Both Sheremetyevo and Sukhoi Superjet 100 are equipped for fully automated landings.
However, it is believed that the pilot in this case wanted or had to land the aircraft without the help of the autopilot system – a process in which Denis Evdokimov was reportedly not well trained.
Regardless, aviation expert and former designer of the Sukhoi Design Bureau, Vadim Lukashevich, said: "I believe this disaster is the result of a series of pilot failures that started from the moment the lightning struck the plane.
It caused problems, but they were not critical. The decision to return was correct.
"But then the pilots had to remember that they were actually pilots and had to fly the plane the way it was for international aviation 40 years ago, without autopilot.
To my knowledge, the commander of the aircraft Denis Evdokimov, who has flown more than 1,400 hours with the SSJ-100, had never landed in direct mode (completely manual).
They landed normally with a glide path, but they pushed their noses down and increased the speed before landing.
& # 39; It was lucky that the front gear did not break. If that had happened, the consequences would have been worse. & # 39;
The investigation tries to find out which of the two pilots carried out the maneuver that cost 41 lives. Pictured: co-driver Maxim Kuznetsov
Aviation experts claimed that the pilots rely too much on the autopilot function. Maxim Kuznetsov pictured left and right
Fireball: The Russian plane pulls a huge cloud of smoke on the asphalt of the Moscow airport behind him
Aeroflot Airlines' SSJ-100 aircraft firing during an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, Russia
He said, "I think the incident is the result of a pilot error."
The aircraft manufactured in Russia fell from the height of a three-story building. No existing airliner would have endured such a landing. & # 39;
Russian top test pilot Viktor Zabolotsky said: "The pilots did everything right in the beginning.
They made a second approach and approached the runway on a glide path.
The traffic managers were absolutely calm and began to discuss where to roll after landing. It's hard to tell at what stage mistakes were made, most likely in leveling.
"In any case, it's not a proper landing if the front landing gear first touches, not the rear.
They should have chosen a different approach. The stability of the aircraft was impaired.
The investigators are currently investigating the cause of the crash, which happened shortly after the start of the aircraft from Moscow Sheremetyevo airport in the direction of Murmansk
Salvage: Rescue workers at the scene after the passengers evacuated the jet after the emergency landing in Moscow
"In this situation, you should either stop and level the plane, but this carries risks because it may not be, or you should choose a different approach."
"That's the best you can do. It could have been corrected after touchdown. & # 39;
Zabolotsky emphasized, "They probably were not well trained in this mode if you had to control both the airplane and the engines.
That means there were two mistakes. An error landing – and an error fixing this error. The aircraft has supported all conceivable and unimaginable forces in such a landing. & # 39;
He said, "The plane has supported all imaginable and unimaginable forces on this landing.
The power for which it was built is 3.6G, but there were 5.5G or more. Even with such a hit, the aircraft remained intact. everything held it, except for areas where the gear is attached to the wings.
& # 39; The fire started when the gear crushed the earth [fuel] Tanks, fuel ran out and ignited by sparks – the rear scratched the runway.
"There could have been an explosion. The crew should not allow such forces on landing, but the plane itself is good. & # 39;
Disaster: A huge fireball breaks out of the superjet plane after it crashed in Moscow
Senior pilot Denis Okan – formerly the instructor and inspector of the country's second-largest airline, S7 – warned about inadequate practice by pilots during manual landings.
"This is not just a problem for Russian carriers," he said. "It's a global problem."
He claimed that the recent catastrophe in Moscow had followed a landing in which the pilot was "not very used" to fly manually.
He warned that it had become too seductive for the crew to use autopilot.
"All the aviation disasters of our time were, in one way or another, due to the fact that pilots could not recognize situations where automation did not work properly – or there was no way to use them."
Investigators are considering various versions of the incident, including pilot failures, inadequate capabilities, technical failure and adverse weather conditions, TASS reported.
The crash probe will be led by the Interstate Aviation Committee.
Survivors reported how people panicked as the plane stormed to the exit exits at the front of the plane, with thick smoke and flames
The tracking service Flightradar24 showed that the victims drove two circles around Moscow, which could have been a last attempt to lose fuel
A source said, "Preliminary information on the disaster, with a detailed analysis of the actions of the crew, land services and air traffic controllers, will be published in an interim report at the end of May."
The Kremlin bluntly refused to stop the flights of the SuperJet – or the production of the aircraft – although at the last minute a series of cancellations were made and the passengers were worried about his safety.
This is taken as an indication that investigators hold human error responsible for the crash.
Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said: "Why do we have to cut production? Has anyone refused to buy the plane? Production cuts are not planned. & # 39;
In his only commentary on the disaster, the plane's captain, Denis Evdokimov, did not seem to recognize the heavy landing that preceded the fire, claiming "everything is according to the book."
"We lost the radio because of a lightning strike," he said. "We had no radio connection during the landing.
Wreck: The burned-out remains of the aircraft at the Moscow airport after a crash landing, which had been handled "expertly" according to an aviation commentator
"We resumed it via an emergency frequency, but it was abrupt and short. We managed to say a few words and lost it. And we had to connect it again.
"The air traffic control helped us, she led us to the runway. The speed was not high, but normal for the landing.
Everything was after the book. We gently approached the ground and slowed down.
After a full stop we ordered the evacuation in an emergency. The second pilot was the first to leave the cockpit, then I did it.
At first, I did not look outside. When I did that, I saw a fire engine. The fire started after the landing. We were not in flames when we were in the air. & # 39;
His co-driver Maxm Kuznetsov, 36, has not talked about the crash.
He was seen as a hero who had fled with a rope from a cockpit window.
Kuznetsov then climbed up the emergency slide and reported that he had rescued Captain Evdokimov.
There was no official explanation as to whether this account was correct.