(UPDATED 1:15pm MT, May 10, 2012) Early speculation so far around this accident seems to be that it was a CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) incident. Of course it will be a long time before there is official word on this, but if so, that would rule out mechanical failure. This would be good news for the fledgling SSJ program, but that information probably doesn’t matter at all to the families of the deceased right now. There’s a great interview about the terrain in which they were flying, by Gerry Soejatman, an aviation consultant. The interview is here: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/salak-mountains-not-suitable-for-joy-ride-expert/517088. While the title of the interview may seem ‘light’, it should help to reduce any new fears the general public may have about flying. It should certainly help to reduce fears about the SuperJet.
Of course we may have to correct all of these conclusions in the coming months as more is known, but for now it seems poor judgement was the root cause. In the least, if a CFIT conclusion is made, most of the flying public should feel a little easier about commercial flying. They will probably never be in the same situation as those who lost their lives aboard this flight. Here is a Google Earth image of the area. And below leading up to this updated is a short history.
(UPDATED 11:10pm Mountain Time) No survivors were found from the Russian Sukhoi SuperJet that went missing early this morning in Jakarta, according to reports from Indonesia. You can read the developments as we reported them below in this post. The jet was a beautiful airplane, and hopefully this incident doesn’t destroy the future of the SSJ program in Russia. Our deep condolences go out to the families of those lost. In memory of the plane and the lives lost, user Fotografersha posted this final video of the SSJ from the press event.
(UPDATED 10:42pm Mountain Time) There are reports that indeed, no survivors were found from the ill-fated SSJ flight. This is a sad ending to the saga. We will now have to wait for the investigation to see what happened. Another interesting piece of news around this event reported also in the Jakarta Post was that a former Minister of Public Housing, Suharso Monoarfa, was on board the plane before it took off, but decided to leave the flight on the behest of his wife. He’s reported as saying:
“I was already on the plane as it was still on the ground. Although I had an unconfirmed meeting at the time, I was thinking to join the flight. However, my wife said that we should go home instead,” Suharso said as quoted by tempo.co.
Amazing. Our condolences to the families of those lost.
(UPDATED 10:10pm Mountain Time) The first images of the SuperJet crash from Jakarta are emerging. I can’t tell from the below pic if the jet is actually ‘intact’ as earliesr claims sounded. Still no word on survivors. Here’s the first pictures (from what appears to be a phone picture of a television report):
Pics via twitpic and user: https://twitter.com/#!/dolyasergey
And here’s the best one so far from https://twitter.com/#!/lystseva:
(UPDATED 9:34p Mountain Time) The wreckage of the Sukhoi SuperJet 100 that went missing early this morning (story below) has been found. The Jakarta Post reports the SSJ 100 has been found on the side of a volcano, Mt. Salak in Bogor, West Java. Amazingly, reports from the search and rescue team that located the jet say that it appears intact from their vantage point in a helicopter. There are no reports yet of survivors.
(8:55am MT) This morning the Associated Press and other sources are reporting that the Sukhoi SuperJet 100, Russia’s new commercial airliner, went missing in Indonesia. The plane was carrying 50 people, primarily press and media passengers for a demonstration flight. The area in which the plane went missing was apparently mountainous terrain. Perhaps the most ominous quote from the article above is this one: “I saw a big plane passing just over my house,” Juanda, a villager who lives near the 7,200-foot- (2,200-meter)- mountain, told the local station TVOne.
It doesn’t look good with the conditions that existed coming into play. They were doing a demo flight (typically pilots take a few risks to impress guests), they were doing it in mountainous terrain; in an area presumably unfamiliar to the Russian pilots who were probably in control of the plane.
Of course Flyopia is an admirer of the SuperJet after our story about it last month. We’ll hope for a miracle, and we’ll keep an eye on the story as it develops.