A senior Indonesian air traffic controller said the ill-fated Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100 that crashed last week had deviated from its planned flight path before disappearing from radar screens, the Jakarta Post said.
Mulya Abdi, a senior general manager for the Indonesian air traffic controlling company PT Angkasa Pura, told tempo.co that the Russian plane had circled above the Atang Sanjaya airbase seven miles from the crash site of Mount Salak, West Java, before it deviated from its flight path and crashed against the steep mountain slope killing all 45 people onboard during its demonstration flight on May 9.
“The question is why the Sukhoi’s pilot decided to deviate from his path? He had not asked for permission to do that,” said Mulya.
However, he urged all the parties concerned to await the results of the official investigation of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee.
Investigators have found the black boxes containing cockpit voice recorders, and Russian experts are expected to shortly deliver the equipment to decipher the pilots’ conversations to Jakarta. However, the vital flight data recorder is still missing.
The Sukhoi Superjet is the first commercial plane designed and built in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago. It is considered by many in the industry to be Russia’s last hope for maintaining a commercial aircraft manufacturing capability.