The Russian Armed Forces suffered the most serious non-combat casualties in Syria: on Tuesday, an An-26 military transport aircraft crashed while landing. Onboard there were 39 persons, from them six - crew members, all of them were lost. Previously, the cause of the crash An-26 military called a technical malfunction, but, according to Kommersant, no less likely and a pilot error. To find out the exact reasons for the emergency, a special commission was set up: it is to study the data of the black boxes that were discovered yesterday at the site of the disaster.
According to official information, the incident with the An-26 transporter occurred on Tuesday "around 15:00 Moscow time" about 500 meters before the runway. The plane, following the route Kvayres-Khmeimim and carrying out two interim landings, was to deliver to the Russian airbase the staff of the Center for the reconciliation of the warring parties, among whom were both military specialists and civilians. In all, 39 people were on board, six of them were crew members.
However, at the expected time, the board did not arrive at the airbase: according to eyewitnesses who were expecting An-26 to land on the runway of the airbase of Khmeimim, he began to "fall to one side", then left in the peak and collided with the ground
As officially reported to the RF Ministry of Defense, the preliminary cause of the catastrophe could be a "technical malfunction": "According to the report from the site, there was no fire impact on the plane." However, a source in the military administration reported that this version is "superficial", since without deciphering the data of a parametric recorder, it is impossible to speak about the absence of firing. "There will be a decoding - there will be an exact answer," the source said, adding that when the fall from the "landing altitude" the airborne recorder did not have to get serious damage.
He specified that the black box was found on Tuesday by the search and rescue team with Khmeimima, but the specialists in Moscow will be decrypting the data.
Aircraft An-26 were operated by Russian military security services from the very beginning of the Syrian campaign. In particular, these sides were involved in the needs of the Center for the reconciliation of warring parties in Syria: these vehicles transported people, products, machinery, medicines, other necessary things from the Syrian province to the province. According to a number of sources from Kommersant close to the RF Ministry of Defense, the crashed An-26 (board number 52) was a part of the 33rd separate transport mixed aviation regiment (Levashovo airfield) of the 6th Leningrad Red Banner Army Air Force and Air Defense of the Western Military District.
According to the interlocutor of "Kommersant" in the aircraft industry, the last time this aircraft was overhauled in 2011: "There were no complaints from the military against him."
It should be noted that during the period of 2012-2017, not one AN-26 was lost: they fell into accidents and catastrophes both on the territory of the Russian Federation and on the territories of foreign states.
On the fact of the catastrophe, the investigative bodies of the main military investigation department of the TFR opened a criminal case under art. 351 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation ("Violation of the rules of flights or preparation for them or other rules for the operation of military aircraft, which caused by negligence the death of two or more persons or other serious consequences"). The military prosecutors also conduct their verification in connection with the incident. "One hundred percent that in this case there was no defeat of the aircraft or its pilots from the ground," a high-ranking source in the investigative bodies told Kommersant. According to him, the territory around the airfield near which the catastrophe occurred was completely controlled by Russian servicemen who had not recorded any shelling or landings on the plane.
However, as the interlocutor of "Kommersant" noted, according to the report from Syria, the landing was carried out in difficult weather conditions: a strong side wind was blowing, there was low cloud cover, besides, there was haze and smog in the air.
Lateral wind shear, directed at an angle to the trajectory of the aircraft and caused by sudden changes in wind direction with altitude, can have a significant impact on takeoff and landing. There is a tendency to shift the aircraft from the center line of the runway and leave left or right of the axis. Thus, the side wind blew at a speed of 7 m / s to 13 m / s - approaching a thunderstorm front. At the same time, restrictions on landing for An-26 - side wind up to 12 m / sec. According to eyewitnesses, the plane came in for landing with a roll, which could be caused just by a side wind. According to the interlocutor of Kommersant, all these factors could contribute to the error made by the crew during landing, the plane crashed into the ground just half a kilometer from the runway end. However, in the course of the investigation, an examination of the fuel will be carried out, which was refueled by the An-26; the technical documentation of the aircraft, including repair and routine maintenance, as well as data of its flight recorders, has been studied. First of all, the participants in the investigation will rely on them.