AIN Blog: Pogosyan’s Eagerness to Exonerate Superjet On Display at Farnborough

 - July 20, 2012, 1:01 PM
Sukhoi Superjet 100
Investigators still have not released the preliminary report on the crash of the third Superjet prototype on May 9 in Indonesia.

During the 2012 Farnborough International airshow, United Aircraft president Mikhail Pogosyan did what no chief executive of a Western aerospace company would even consider: comment publicly on the findings, or lack thereof, by investigators of a fatal accident before the relevant authorities had even issued a preliminary report.

While speaking at a July 8 press conference attended by virtually all the heads of the various companies now operating under the UAC umbrella, Pogosyan issued his own brief preliminary report on the May 9 crash of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 during a demonstration flight in Indonesia in which all 45 occupants died.

According to the UAC boss, the “black boxes” retrieved from the wreckage so far show not a “hint” of technical fault. “We work in close contact with the national safety committee and the investigation board, which is conducting the investigation of the Superjet accident, and we have access to the analysis of the data,” Pogosyan said through an interpreter. “So based on that data we can say there were no technical issues with the aircraft.”

In a seeming contradiction, however, Pogosyan said “it would be premature” to discuss details of the investigation. But the implications of his earlier comments seemed clear: nothing about the airplane caused it to fly directly into the sheer face of a cliff near Mount Salak, some 60 miles south of Jakarta, leaving only pilot error or some unusual natural phenomenon as possible explanations.

Of course, Pogosyan has everything to gain by leaving that impression. The fragile credibility of the Russian effort to compete with Western civil aerospace companies could well hinge on the findings. More immediately, commitments for 40 airplanes to no fewer than three potential customers from Southeast Asia could also hang in the balance. In fact, Pogosyan acknowledged that the accident might result in a “shift” in deliveries to Indonesian airlines, but he asserted that, in general, customer interest in the airplane hasn’t waned. “We keep informing our customers, both potential and existing, of the information that we have on the results of the investigation,” he said.

But to some, leaking the crux of the still preliminary findings to the rest of the world didn’t show good form. Even if he knew for sure that the accident investigators would rule out technical fault, why not wait for the published report? Only time will tell whether or not Pogosyan’s early accounting will prove correct and complete.


Though the final repot has not been issued the preliminary report only contains recommendations pertaining to demonstration flights air crew training. The report states that all data retrieved from the VCR and FDR clearly indicates that all aircraft systems were functionning correctly until the momnet the crash occured.

The author of this article is trying to throw the doubt on M Pogosyan declarations while basic facts and those revealed by aircraft and ATC air data analysis clearly shows that the pilot performed unsafe manoever in close proximity of mount salak in Indonesia causing the unfortunate loss of the occupants and the aircraft.

The SCAC has already started an analysis of the preliminary reports recommandations and will issued more precise directive pertaining to demontration flights pending the publication of the final report.

Jean Ubota

The tragedy of SUHOI crash raise number of questions related to whole flight(s)
organization & preparations, at all sides involved.
Any how, pilot's request & decision to descent below vulcano area safety minimum,
turns key light to PIC and flight crew. Thus, "easy ride" from departing airport to
near, southern coast (and beach) and back, on route, where volcano-Mt. Salak, stays
aside, turned to high risky and catastrophy.
Also, flying even over Java is not the same as allalong wast Russian space, especially
around mountain-vulcano pick, and in the period of season change, Particularly, at
the time of second flight, those days rainy clouds movement require knowledge and
attention. Changing flight plan-diversion in last moment, most probably did not
allowed crew briefing & coordination. Hitting the ridge, few meters below and left of
the edge, raise question about altimeters setting / change. Positioning system,
GPS or GLONASS (not to forget that airpalne was replaced short before the tour),
updated or not? [Also, even opearting properly, hardly could help in turn around,
as nobody use it in Reno's "around poles" race]. TCAS operated and sound alarm,
but, again in most probably, sharp turn, it was too late [it had to be reminded B727,
which hit vulcano pick, only "lone mountain" thousands miles around, at Canary islands.] Next group of questions arerelated to ATC, transfer from Halim airport
tower to Cengkareng area control and their roll & awarness.
Unfortunately, whatever and whoever had been involved in a"mess" of organization,
planning and control of that "easy ride-flight" PIC responsibility stays (even more,
since there was no word of anybody, as Flight Operations Manager).
Final report, will come, but efect will be reduced. Aviation people, need to evaluate
and learn/to be warned (not to blame) when the tragedy is still fresh in our minds
(and especially, since it is not only one and so rare).
Srboljub Savic

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