Russian Jet Replaced Before Doomed Indonesia Flight

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 that crashed into a mountain outside Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 45 people on May 9 was a replacement aircraft for one which had been withdrawn due to engine problems shortly before the flight, according to reports in the Russian media.

A Superjet 100 aircraft with the tail number 95005, which earlier performed demonstration flights in Kazakhstan and Pakistan as part of a six-country tour aimed at wooing potential buyers, was the one originally planned to be shown in Indonesia on May 9, the LifeNews television channel said on its website, quoting Alexander Tulyakov, deputy president of Russia’s United Aviation Corporation (UAC).

But an engine oil leak revealed during maintenance on May 6 forced the show organizers to replace the plane with another similar jet, with the tail number 95004, Tulyakov said, resulting in organizers having just a few hours to prepare the plane for the flight.

A spokesperson for the Sukhoi Corporation which designed the plane and is part of UAC confirmed that the plane was replaced, but would not name the reason.

All 45 people on board the Superjet 100 were killed when the plane slammed into a steep side of Mount Salak near Jakarta shortly after take-off on a a demonstration flight on May 9.

Russia’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said last week that experts believe “human factor” was the most probable cause of the fatal crash, but UAC head Mikhail Pogosyan later said it was still premature to say if pilot error was to blame.

A search operation for the victims’ bodies continues despite difficult weather and terrain at the site of the crash, with the flight recorders of the Superjet 100 yet to be discovered. Indonesian aviation officials have said the investigation of the crash may take up to a year.

The jet is the first commercial plane to be designed and built in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago.


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