The CEO of oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, was killed in the crash of a Dassault Falcon 50EX business jet at Moscow Vnukovo airport last night. The three crewmembers aboard also perished in the accident. The Falcon, registered as F-GLSA, was operated by Le Bourget-based Unijet, part of the Luxaviation group.
According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, the aircraft was taking off of Runway 01 for Paris when it struck a snowplow, caught fire and fell to the runway. The criminal investigation has already revealed that the snow-clearing machine’s driver was drunk, but other factors are also being scrutinized, including ATC, weather and the pilots’ decisions.
Vnukovo Airport gave some data on the conditions on Runway 01: visibility was 1,150 ft and the surface friction coefficient was 0.5. The accident took place at 11:57 p.m. local time, and the airport was closed after the crash until 1:34 a.m. The condition of the snowplow driver was unknown at press time. The probe also involves the Interstate Aviation Committee and three representatives of the French BEA.