Sukhoi Superjet Encountered a Windshear

Aircraft experienced massive g forces when it touched down.

The Superjet struck the runway on landing so hard that it ruptured the wing and fuel lines.Courtesy Sukhoi

The Russian Ministry of Transport's initial findings into the May 5 Sukhoi Superjet accident at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport said the crew received a windshear alert in the final minutes of the flight. Moments later, Aeroflot Flight 1492 landed hard on Runway 24 Left and bounced several times before bursting into flames. Forty-one people on board died in the accident while 37 survived the crash.

About five minutes after departure, as the aircraft was flying in an area of thunderstorms about 20 miles northwest and climbing through about 9,000 feet, the crew experienced an electrical failure of unknown origin. The captain began flying the aircraft by hand. The crew managed to establish radio contact with an unknown party using its UHF radio. The Russian report becomes a bit confusing here, only explaining the crew was unable to make contact with ATC. The pilots switched their transponder to code 7600 confirming the loss of communications.

The Russian report said the Sukhoi jet executed a series of turns and once overshot the runway centerline, but 15 minutes after takeoff, eventually ended up making an approach back to Runway 24 Left for an overweight landing. The Sukhoi POH called for 25 degrees of landing flaps for this approach. Twenty-three minutes after takeoff, the crew set 7700 in their transponder although the report does not indicate precisely why.

As the aircraft descended on final through approximately 1,000 feet, the windshear warning sounded five times with, “Go around. Windshear ahead.” The crew continued the approach. At approximately 260 feet as the aircraft descended below the glide path the terrain alert sounded, “Glide Slope.” The aircraft’s airspeed increased to 170 knots.

The aircraft touched down approximately 3,000 feet beyond the runway threshold at 158 knots with a force of 2.55g before bouncing about six feet back into the air. On the third touchdown at 140 knots, the aircraft hit with a 5g vertical overload that ruptured the wing and fuel lines. Flames quickly engulfed the rear of the aircraft before it slid to a stop on the grass between Runway 24L and two taxiways. An emergency evacuation was carried out.