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Criminal probe launched into Sukhoi crash

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 11, 2012
As many as 50 people were killed when a Sukhoi Superjet 100 crashed into an Indonesian mountain during a demonstration flight for potential buyers. (Sukhoi)

Russian investigators have launched a criminal probe into the crash of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 during a demonstration flight in Indonesia on Wednesday.

A law enforcement spokesman said the investigation would focus on crew training and the technical condition of the aircraft before it left Russia.

As many as 50 people were killed when the plane apparently crashed into the sheer face of a mountain during a flight meant to show off the Russian-made twin-engine jetliner to potential buyers. Rescuers at the remote crash site say they have found no survivors, but accounts of how many people were on board have differed.

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Early questions have focused on why the pilot of the aircraft requested to descend below 6000ft amid the mountains shortly before crashing. Indonesian aviation experts say a pilot typically would have ascended to avoid bad weather.

The crash is a major setback for the Superjet, with the Russian government having invested heavily in the project as part of a bid to revive the country’s moribund aircraft manufacturing industry. President Vladimir Putin has hailed the aircraft as a “national champion” that would help return Russia to its Cold War-era prominence.

But even before the crash, the Superjet has struggled to find buyers outside of Russia, with Alitalia canceling a $500 million deal due to production delays.

The Superjet received type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency in February. Indonesian regional carrier PT Sky Aviation has ordered 12 in a deal worth US$379 million at list prices.

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