At least 41 people have died in an inferno aboard an Aeroflot Sukhoi SSJ100 at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) on Sunday evening after the airplane made an emergency landing. Flight SU-1492 to Murmansk returned to SVO a half hour after takeoff when the crew reported “technical malfunctions.” The regional jet, carrying 73 passengers and five crewmembers, skidded off the runway after it landed violently and caught fire.
Amateur videos made by witnesses at the airport show huge flames and dense black smoke emanating from the airplane as it skidded along the runway before coming to a stop. Firefighters arrived in a few minutes and extinguished the flames. Photos and videos of the incident depict the rear fuselage of the Superjet, bearing registration RA-89098, completely destroyed. Survivors exited the airplane using its inflatable escape chutes.
According to an airport spokeswoman, SU-1492 dispatched at 6:02 pm local time and returned for touchdown at 6:30 pm. The airport closed shortly thereafter, but flight operations on one of the two runways resumed at about 7:30 pm. A number of incoming flights diverted to other Moscow airports and Nizhny Novgorod.
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) said the airplane—serial number 95135—rolled off its assembly line in August 2017 and underwent its most recent maintenance in April this year. Information from other open sources indicates that RA-89098 had flown three trouble-free passenger services earlier in the day. During the fourth, malfunctions involving avionics and other onboard systems prompted a decision by Captain Denis Evdokimov and First Officer Maxim Kuznetsov to perform an emergency landing at SVO, but they aborted their first attempt and performed a go-around before finally touching down. Both pilots survived, but one of the three cabin crewmembers perished when helping passengers out from the burning wreck. Later, Aeroflot said the evacuation operation lasted 55 seconds.