An S7 plane with 200 passengers on board nearly crashed in Magadan: who is to blame?

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An S7 plane with 200 passengers on board nearly crashed in Magadan: who is to blame?
An S7 plane with 200 passengers on board nearly crashed in Magadan: who is to blame?
6 December 2021, 11:06Incidents
The story of the miraculously escaped plane was reported last Friday by few Russian media outlets, but it was vigorously discussed on social networks.

Let us remind you that the airliner Airbus of the airline S7, flying from Magadan to Novosibirsk, made an emergency landing in Irkutsk with 199 passengers and seven crew members on board.

Instead of a special plane, it was treated with the usual anti-freeze

The aircraft with the tail number VQ-BGU is one of the newest in the S7 fleet, it has been in operation since December 2018, so it's not a matter of its technical condition. This is also evidenced by the fact that soon after departure from the Magadan airport, Sokol, the crew commander reported to the ground about the icing and his decision to return. The initial cause of the problem was an icy airplane speed sensor.

After a few minutes, the surfaces of the wings and air intakes of the engines were covered with a crust of ice. The plane's lift dropped sharply, and the autopilot was no longer able to cope. However, the crew did not manage to land in Magadan and it was decided to fly to Irkutsk, and everything ended well there.

Meanwhile, already a hit on social networks was the recording of the crew's negotiations with the dispatchers of the Magadan airport: “We cannot stabilize the plane!”, Which was posted by the online edition Readovka.

In this regard, what happened on board now raises even more questions. If not for the crew, the tragedy with 200 passengers on board would not have been avoided. As the new Airbus climbed, both engines froze over. Airbus A321neo first fell down 2 kilometers, and then completely got out of control. Despite the statements of the company's press service that control over the vessel was not completely lost, it becomes clear from the negotiations that for some time the car simply did not obey.

The first version of what happened was the suspicion that the plane before departure could be treated from icing not with a regular liquid on glycol, but with a kind of automobile “anti-freeze” on methyl alcohol.

Flying with an icy hull is like flying without wings

The well-known aviation expert Vadim Lukashevich writes about this:

“Icing in flight is the scourge of aviation and the main danger that lies in wait for an aircraft in flight.

It changes the surface and aerodynamic characteristics of the wing in an unpredictable and critical way, drastically reducing its bearing capacity, and makes the aircraft uncontrollable.

This is the worst thing that can happen to an aircraft, and the pilot becomes powerless, because it is impossible to control an uncontrollable falling aircraft.

That is why all modern aircraft are equipped with anti-icing systems of various operating principles that protect the most dangerous areas of the wing surface. They operate in cruise flight.

But in the process of take-off and climb, the aircraft often passes through low clouds, in which icing can come like an avalanche and almost instantly, and the standard anti-icing system of the aircraft cannot cope with this. Then, a few minutes after takeoff, the plane turns into an iron with wings, or in the worst case, without wings.

In order for the aircraft to pass the dangerous range after takeoff, it is treated with a special anti-icing fluid before takeoff. This liquid does not just prevent icing - it is not immediately blown away by the oncoming air flow, preventing intense icing before the aircraft leaves low cloud cover.

Simply put - in the cloudy sky immediately after take-off, the liquid applied before take-off works, and in cruising flight - the standard on-board anti-icing system.

Now about the car "anti-freeze" - an alcohol-based liquid that simply does not freeze in the cold. On a car, it is not used as anti-icing, but only serves to wash the windows with “windscreen wipers”.

It is, of course, possible to water the plane with an anti-freeze before departure instead of an anti-icing fluid, but it will be blown away by the oncoming stream while still taking off on the runway. And from the strip will come off already untreated plane.

Everyone on board this ill-fated flight was born a second time, and the pilots are heroes who covered someone else's crime with their skill.

A person who decided to use an anti-freeze vehicle (if this is confirmed) instead of an anti-icing fluid during the anti-icing treatment of an aircraft before take-off should be publicly shot with a live broadcast on all TV channels, and then play this video as an advertisement for our airlines..."

Airline and airport owners are always trying to save money.

Another expert, Honored Pilot of the USSR, member of the Air Transport Commission of the Public Council of the Federal Service for Supervision of Transport Oleg Smirnov also drew attention to the possibility of icing: fuselage, etc. In order to avoid trouble on takeoff... the plane must be doused with ... anti-icing liquid before departure.

The first nuance is what the condition of this liquid is, whether it corresponds to all the indicators (chemical composition) that should be in this liquid. Further, the amount of liquid and the skill of those who doused the plane. You also need to be able to do this. Do not just water, as you hold a shower over your head, but water competently, paying special attention to the wing and the stabilizer.

The commission, which is investigating, needs to pay attention to what kind of liquid it was ... and how effectively it worked in flight. " Only recommended and in the right proportions ... In order to actually have anti-icing, and not just one that wets the aircraft wing with water ... People should be trained in this, this liquid has to be tested. It is checked regularly before dousing the plane. All this must be strictly adhered to.

Airline owners ... are trying to save money because this is an expensive liquid. The crews are even sometimes given recommendations - do not pour it better ... There are such cases, recorded, savings due to flight safety. Such people have no place in aviation. They must not be allowed into the leadership seats of the airlines and the airport for a cannon shot. "

Who will be named guilty of this incident?

In the meantime, S7 has suspended the crew of the airliner that operated the Airbus A321neo on a flight from Magadan, pending investigation. The questions, first of all, are not caused by the behavior of the pilots during the flight itself, but by the state in which they received the ship before departure. The investigation already has good reason to believe that the plane was not properly treated with anti-icing fluid due to the rush, and the crew did not control this in any way and committed negligence. Moreover, it is likely that the liquid itself was an ordinary car anti-freeze. However, until now none of the employees of the airport in Magadan has been detained. Of course, there is no talk about rewarding pilots either.

Later, S7 acknowledged the fact that the plane had not been properly processed by the FL in Magadan, Readovka said, while the company denied that the plane was losing control.

"During the flight S7 5220 Magadan - Novosibirsk, the plane got into a zone of severe icing, which led to the disconnection of the autopilot," the airline said.

At the same time, S7 Airlines does not exclude that the airport could have carried out anti-icing treatment with violations: “Thus, icing could have formed not only in the air, but also on the ground before takeoff. It is important to note that control of the aircraft was not lost in this case".

Finally, there is one more important circumstance. Although leading civil aviation experts and S7 itself point to inappropriate anti-icing fluid (DE) treatment at Magadan airport as one of the main reasons for problems that arose after takeoff with problems with board control and almost caused the death of more than 200 people - to airport S7 refused to make any claims.

The point is who exactly controls this airport. In December 2020, ABS Magadan LLC won the tender for the reconstruction of the Magadan air gates, 50% of the authorized capital of which belongs to Novaport Holding LLC, and 50% belongs to the Regional Airports Management Company. The strategic investor (read - owner) of Regional Airports is the Renova Group of Companies by Viktor Vekselberg.

Accordingly, attempts to blame the structures of the billionaire, who last year was awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky by Vladimir Putin “for his great contribution to the work on the construction of modern airport complexes”, could cost S7 dearly. Therefore, in the end, it is likely that either the crew of the plane, or some ordinary airport employee who personally replaced the OZH with a cheap “non-freeze” from the store, will be declared a "switchman", Readovka suggests.

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