Pilot blamed for 41 deaths in Moscow plane crash

3 December 2019, 09:22 | Updated: 3 December 2019, 15:42

A pilot has been blamed for the deaths of 41 people in a crash landing at Moscow Airport earlier this year, Russian media said.

Following an investigation into the May plane crash, Russia's Investigative Committee plans to charge pilot Denis Evdokimov with causing death by negligence, the Kommersant Daily said.

The state body, which investigates major crimes, has laid the blame with the pilot without waiting for the final conclusions of the Interstate Aviation Committee, a source close to the first committee said.

Mr Evdokimov denies the charges, his lawyer Natalia Mitusova said.

She added that requests for independent examinations into the incident have been rejected.

On 5 May, the Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 caught fire while making a bumpy emergency landing at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow.

Footage showed it bouncing on the tarmac before the back of the plane burst into flames, while black smoke streamed out the back.

Thirty-three of the 73 passengers and five crew, travelling from Moscow to the northern city of Murmansk, escaped on the aircraft's inflatable emergency slides.

Cabin crew were hailed as heroes, with two of them kicking open emergency exits as the plane landed.

Flight attendant Maxim Moiseev, 22, reportedly died in the flames as he remained inside the plane to push passengers towards the inflatable ramp.

At the time Aeroflot said the plane was forced to turn back after taking off from Sheremetyevo for "technical reasons".

Russia's Interfax news agency said the plane was thought to have been hit by lightning shortly after take-off - disabling the radio and other systems.

It added the plane had tanks full of fuel when it made its landing just 20 minutes after take-off.

The plane was said to have bumped the runway three times, causing fuel from the tanks to spill and flare, engulfing the back of the main body of the aircraft in flames.

In October, the Investigative Committee said the pilot had violated established rules.

Svetlana Petrenko, a representative of the committee, said: "Further actions of Evdokimov to control the aircraft, carried out in violation of established rules, caused the destruction and igniting of the aircraft, resulting in the death of 40 passengers and one crew member."