The State Commission, headed by Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, blamed the tragic death of 84 passengers and eight crew members of the aircraft commander Roman Volkov, a military pilot of the 1 class who had flown 3500 hours, of which 1900 on Tu-154. But the causes of the disaster over the Black Sea still raise many questions.
As a person who served a lot in the Air Force and dealt with flight safety, I also wonder why such a competent commission for investigating an air crash accused a highly professional crew of inability to cope with an emergency situation on board.
Lost on the ground?
In fact, what happened in 70 seconds of flight, the commission, apparently, was not able to thoroughly understand.
As is known, about a minute after separation from the runway, the Tu-154-B2 gained an altitude of about 250 meters and a speed of the order of 360 – 370 kilometers per hour. Immediately after this, the abnormal situation began to develop rapidly on board.
At a press conference on the work of the government commission, head of flight safety aviation The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Sergey Bainetov said that “the radio exchange was extremely short. A special situation was within 10 seconds ... ”That is, according to him, before that, everything was going pretty well. However, the analysis of the crew’s radio exchange not only in the last seconds of the flight, but also on the ground suggests the opposite. The first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense, Andrei Krasov, is inclined to this point of view: “Something extraordinary was supposed to happen.”
The Russian Defense Ministry, in turn, also reported an emergency situation aboard the Tu-154-БХNUMX before the crash. What turned out to be extraordinary on earth?
From the open access part of the investigation materials it follows that “the aircraft commander R. Volkov began to experience difficulties in determining his own position on the territory of the aerodrome”, which was connected with his idea of the upcoming take-off course. Volkov allegedly did not understand which of the two runways he would take off from. But the Sochi airport is equipped with an illumination of the indexes of the taxiways and runway numbers. According to experts, it is impossible to “get lost” there. In addition, the Volkov airfield was familiar. Moreover, if the liner commander was lost on the ground, a ban on take-off should immediately follow, which did not happen. So, everything was normal or hide from the public that it is not so? But then there are even more questions.
In the materials of the investigation of the violation of spatial orientation (situational awareness), it says that in 70 seconds of flying at altitudes up to 300 meters even a beginner is very difficult to get lost. And at the helm was an experienced pilot who flew, we repeat, on the Tu-154 1900 hours. Volkov was constantly taking off with a pitch for pitching, which you could not do otherwise than on the artificial horizon. Nearby was a trained full-time crew who monitored the situation and would react to the deviations of the instruments. It is hard to believe that their testimony was ignored for several tens of seconds, and collectively. The actual withdrawal of the co-pilot and the navigator from ensuring a safe flight cannot be explained either. Ex-Head of Air Force Flight Safety Service (1997 – 2002), Honored Military Pilot, Major General of Aviation Boris Tumanov is convinced: two professionals could not lose
spatial orientation, and the disaster occur due to erroneous (that is, conscious) actions of the crew. Unless, of course, at this time his spatial orientation (situational awareness) was disturbed.
Similar cases were investigated by doctors of the Air Force of Great Britain. Violation of spatial orientation may occur when the parameters exceed the normal for the life of the flight personnel. These are temperatures from + 20 ° and overloading over 1 units. But the work of the crew of the Tu-154-B2 corresponded to the usual parameters of life. Therefore, the violation of spatial orientation, to put it mildly, is problematic. However, the state commission made such a conclusion. Why?
The investigation states that this "could have contributed (but could not have contributed! - I. S.) the resulting excessive neuropsychic tension caused by a combination of a number of situational professional psychological stress factors against the background of natural emotional and physiological fatigue; the lack of sustainable skills in the distribution of attention and maintaining the specified flight parameters at the stage of take-off and climb. " And this is a professionally trained aircraft commander and crew?
"Direct" indication of the spatial position of the aircraft roll is displayed on the command flight instrument (CAT), it is impossible not to notice. Then where did it come from that it caused difficulties for a particular aircraft commander? The young pilot during retraining on the simulator - maybe. And Roman Volkov, once again, was an experienced pilot. In addition, in case of failure of the transmission there is a backup device - AGR-72 artificial horizon.
By the way, if the “special situation” appeared on the ground, then why did the air traffic controllers in the airport area not provide the crew with timely assistance? The investigation inquiries about this read as follows: “The omissions in the control of the organization of the flights, the objective control and the flight work of the 800 (AB) management team contributed to the air accident ...”
Is it too lightly: “The omissions of ... the management team of the 800 aircraft base contributed to the accident?” This is not a vegetable base or even a Voentorg base. The flight of the old and glorious историяThis is a long-established living organism of the Air Force. The elite special-purpose division, which performs state tasks, has established itself as a responsible and trouble-free unit. There was laid the system of reliable operation of aviation equipment and the training of aviation personnel. A strict control of ensuring on the ground and in the air trouble-free operation and flight safety has been established. Under Serdyukov, they reassigned 8 th hell (OH) to 800 th (AB), lowering the status, but did not reduce its responsibility. Some shortcomings in the training of the crew, of course, may occur. But in principle, noted by the commission and entailed a catastrophe, I, as an expert, do not believe.
Explicit contradictions can be traced in the evaluations of the commander. From the investigation materials follows: “R. Volkov was not ready to fly on the psychological, professional and physiological criteria as a pilot, as a ship commander, as responsible for the safety of passengers. ” But before that there were completely different ratings. “The crew of the crashed Tu-154-БХNUMX was ready to perform the flight, the level of its qualification corresponded to the fulfillment of the flight mission,” stated the same Bynett in an interview. He was supported at that moment by Commander-in-Chief of the VKS Colonel-General Viktor Bondarev: “Volkov is a perfectly prepared first-class military pilot ...”
I can not even imagine that the country's leadership could appoint an unprepared flight crew for such a responsible task. As Boris Tumanov said, “the commander of the Tu-154-B2 crew with such professional training and raid on the Tu-154 1900 hours cannot get into a situation of spatial distortion, especially on takeoff when piloting the instrument instrument.”
Mirage on the course
During the search operation, more than 200 fragments of the crashed aircraft were found, including the side hull of the 3,5 size per 4,5 meter with portholes, tail section with engine pieces, a separate engine, landing gear… 20 bodies and numerous air passenger remains were lifted. Such a spread only happens when an aircraft is destroyed in the air.
Although the mass accumulation point of fragments was located six kilometers from the coastline, where the depth is from 80 to 100 meters, debris and personal belongings were found on a fairly large area, some of them are in 12 – 14 kilometers. In this regard, serious experts talk about the possibility of an explosion on board. Hence, the version of the attack is not excluded.
According to the expert in the aerospace field Vadim Lukashevich, the investigation had too little information. Therefore, it is difficult to talk about any specific causes of the disaster.
Specialists involved in the investigation, found that the commander of the crew before the fall of the plane pressed the rudder pedals, which are usually not used during takeoff. As if trying to get around an unexpected obstacle. At the same time, the commission rejected the option of external influence and technical malfunction of the liner. One gets the impression that before the plane there was indeed some kind of obstacle, perhaps a flock of birds or even a mirage. However, experienced pilots believe that there is again not enough reason to talk about a pilot error.
“Aircraft on takeoff falls very rarely, especially of this class. It has three engines, very reliable. It could not be that someone flew up to him, he could bump into something. And then a sharp fall, it happens in the case when something irregular happened, something exploded, something fell off ... The pilot could turn on the distress signal, but this also did not happen. I cannot sin on the crew, but the equipment does not break down right away, ”instructor pilot Andrey Krasnoperov shared his thoughts. - If the liner fell intact, it would just disappear in the water, and an oil stain would form at the site of its fall, then fragments would surface ... And then they even found a person who suffered damage from debris in the coastal zone, and then the remnants of the aircraft . All this suggests that parts of the liner fell randomly. "
Apparently, the poor quality of the initial data (their absence) did not allow the investigation participants to thoroughly restore the whole scheme of the development of the emergency situation on board the Tu-154-БХNUMX and, accordingly, to come to a common opinion.
An additional problem was the flight recorder, created in the 80-s, and is essentially a reel tape recorder of those years. It was not damaged, but to obtain full information from it at the Research and Development Center for maintenance and repair of the AT Air Force of the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation, no equipment or specialists remained. I had to ask for help from the MAC, but the transcript of the record added a bit to the investigation.
Let's reproduce those last 10 seconds of the crew’s activities before the plane crashed into the Black Sea through some versions and opinions. The commission to investigate the crash of the Tu-154-B2 stated: at 73-th second, having touched the surface of the sea with its left wing, it collapsed into parts and sank. I emphasize: in parts, but not in fragments, as it turned out in reality. At the time of the collision, the left bank was about 50 degrees, the instrument speed was 540 kilometers per hour. The liner managed to fly over the sea 1270 meters. Where did the numerous fragments come from at such a low flight speed and low altitude?
Initially, it was 15 and even more versions of the disaster. When received data from the two "black boxes", it was twice less. But the remaining versions have not yet been made public by officials. “One cannot say about one reason for this accident,” emphasized Sergey Baynetov. “These reasons lie in the field of both the human factor, aviation technology, and external conditions.” According to him (before the Commission adopted the final conclusions), the development of a special situation on board could have been affected by some kind of mechanical effect. But this promise also does not add anything and does not say anything specifically. All from the area of assumptions that could be made and non-specialists. And what really was the cause of the disaster, the relatives of the victims, the Russian public do not know. "The investigation is over, forget ..."
After the tragic event almost a year passed. But even after this time had passed, I personally didn’t feel better and calmer. As a pilot and expert, I feel innuendo, some kind of silence, lack of clear explanations for a number of screaming facts about the behavior of the aircraft and crew on that early morning in Sochi on December 25.
For the conclusions of the state commission were not only questions to which no answers were received, but also logical contradictions, inconsistencies. It may be beneficial for someone that the Tu-154-B2 crash remains a mystery with seven seals. But not the Russian public. Truth must triumph sooner or later.