Preliminary findings point to human error in An-140 crash

 - January 14, 2008, 9:47 AM

Ukrainian investigators have blamed “human factors” for the loss of an Antonov An-140 turboprop during a December 23 charter flight from Kharkov, Ukraine, to
Isfahan, Iran. The airplane, UR14003, operated by Kharkov-based Aeromist-Kharkov, crashed into a mountain near the village of Bargabad on approach to Isfahan airport. All 44 people on board died in the crash, including six crewmembers.

After a fuel stop at Turkey’s Trobzon Airport, Flight AHW 2137 proceeded uneventfully to Isfahan for the rollout of the second An-140 license-built by Iranian manufacturer HESA. The airplane carried a delegation of Russian and Ukrainian aviation specialists, many of whom led and participated in the An-140 program.

The preliminary results of the investigation committee made public in early January indicate the information on both of UR14003’s flight recorders gave no evidence of any technical problems. The commission classified the case as “controlled flight into terrain,” adding that there was a “large deviation from the normal landing approach.”

The report drew no conclusion as to whether the crash resulted from pilot error or a mistake by air traffic controllers. The pilots, captain Gennady Antsibor, with 2,000 flight hours, and first officer Sergei Chainchenko, with 6,600, had both flown the An-140 on numerous test missions. The captain had landed seven times in Isfahan, the first officer 16 times.

According to still unconfirmed reports, the local ATC radar system malfunctioned around the time of the crash, raising speculation that the crew lost situational awareness.

The crash resulted in the loss of “the flower of the Ukrainian aviation elite,” said Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma. The 31 Ukrainian and five Russian specialists were to take part in a conference on the likely prospects for the An-140 license-production program at HESA. The airplane also carried the wife and seven-year-old son of a ZMKB Progress engine company representative in Iran. Among the dead are Antonov deputy general director Jaroslav Goloborodko, supervisor of the Iran-140 project, and deputy chief designer Vasily Shishkov.

The KhGAAP production factory, which builds the An-140 in Khakov, lost five department directors, a chief technologist, a section chief and six engineers and technicians. Ukrainian companies Avionika, FED and Giproniiaviaprom lost their general directors, and Elektropribor lost its chairman.

Also among the dead were four directors and deputy general directors of four other leading Ukrainian aerospace enterprises. Russia lost the general directors of the Rubin and Agregat companies, and the deputy director and a chief specialist of MNPK Avionika.

Both the Iranian and Ukrainian sides have said that the crash will not affect the project, known as Iran-140.

HESA intends to assemble more than 80 aircraft for local airlines, and plans a maximum production rate of 12 aircraft a year by next year. KhGAAP must supply HESA with 24 An-140 kits by 2006. KhGAAP general director Pavel Naumenko said the first Iran-140 has already entered service, out of 105 destined to join Iranian airlines.