Source Pravda.Ru

Did the Lvov tragedy occur because of the pilots’ ranks?

Former Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief Anatoly Kornukov: “Officers of higher ranks do not often pilot planes of this class”
A tragic crash similar to that one that recently shook an Ukrainian city of Lvov, occurred at an aviation show in Rammstein, West Germany in 1988, when three Italian Air Force planes collided in the air and fell to the crowd. As a result, 70 people died and hundreds were wounded. The catastrophe caused foreign governments to introduce tougher security requirements, especially for aviation shows. According to the requirements, the distance between airplanes and spectators at aviation shows should be no less than 430 meters in West European countries.

Requirements of this kind weren’t observed at the aviation show in Lvov. The show, which was dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the 14th Ukrainian Air Force Corps was held at the Skynliv aerodrome. Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters performed high aerobatics. A Su-27 fighter snagged on another parked plane, suddenly changed course, and fell to the ground. The pilots managed to catapult, but the plane fell to the airfield and sliced through the crowd on one wing. Then, it turned over and blew up.

Engine failure is being suggested as one of the possible causes of the crash causes; it is also supposed that, perhaps, the Su-27 pilots lost control of the plane. However, the deputy chief of the Ukrainian General Staff says that the Su-27 was piloted by highly professional colonels. The pilots were able to survive the accident: they were brought to a rehabilitation center in Vinnitsa (Ukraine) today early.

Former commander-in-chief of Russia’s air forces Anatoly Kornukov says that the tragedy occurred because of the human factor. He says that the organizers of the show and Su-27 pilots are guilty of the tragedy, Corriere della Sera journalist Fabrizio Dragosei writes. “Technical failures should be ruled out. The tragedy occurred because of what we call the human factor.”

Anatoly Kornukov is a professional pilot himself; he has piloted hundreds of planes during his life. He occupied the post of the Russian Air Force commander-in-chief and resigned less than six months ago.

The human factor means a mistake made by the pilots. However, the Su-27 that sliced through the crowd at the aviation shown in Lvov was piloted by two experienced colonels, who were high-class specialists, according to their certificates at least.

Anatoly Kornukov says that the ranks of the pilots mean nothing at all. Moreover, if the pilots were of a lower rank, the events would have developed differently.

What do you mean?

- It is rather simple, in fact. Officers of higher ranks do not often pilot planes of this class, and, unfortunately, the number of their flight hours is not considerable. In a word, they lack the experience required for the performance of some maneuvers. I think that it was a mistake of the show's organizers.

Are organizers of the aviation show responsible for other problems?

- Certainly, the decision to direct a plane over a stand filled people was unreasonable and risky.

Do you think this was a mistake of the two colonels only?

- The pilots performed very complex maneuver; however, they overworked the plane. The pilots wanted to increase the traction of the engine and switched to what we call a second regime. However, that disagreed with the laws of physics, and the airplane fell down on the people.

Alexander Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Ukraine

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/07/29/44831.html

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