Bad weather forced helicopters to abandon their search for a Sukhoi Superjet 100 reportedly carrying 50 people that disappeared from radar screens during a demonstration flight from Jakarta, Indonesia, on May. The Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency has dispatched ground teams in coordination with local police and military units into the mountainous terrain where officials suspect the aircraft crashed. The 95-seat regional jet went missing some 20 minutes into its demonstration flight, as it headed southeast toward the vicinity of the 7,254-foot Mount Salak in West Java.
According to the Russia Today (RT) news service, ATC granted the crew permission to descend to 6,000 feet from 10,000 feet. Moments later controllers lost radio contact.
The aircraft’s arrival in Indonesia marked the fourth stop in a six-country Asian demonstration tour. It had already visited Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Myanmar and schedules called for it to go to Laos and Vietnam over the next few days.
In a written statement, Superjet International, the Venice, Italy-based Western sales and support entity for the SSJ100, confirmed that the airplane had completed an earlier demonstration flight on Wednesday without any technical problems. It added that the crew did not report any failures before the aircraft disappeared from radar screens.
Superjet International confirmed that the flight crew consisted of SSJ100 chief pilot Alexander Yablontsev and copilot Alexander Kocketkov. Yablontsev has flown more than 10,000 hours and commanded the first flight of the SSJ100’s first prototype.
The airplane in question, MSN 95004, flew for the first time on July 25, 2009, and had accumulated more than 800 flight hours during 500 flights. According to Superjet International, it has never experienced a ”serious” technical problem.