The aircraft involved was a Tupolev 154B-2, tail number RA-85572, msn 83A-572, which had been in operation since 1983, and had flown for about 7,000 hours before the crash.
Accident site within the western part of Russia
The Tupolev had taken off at 05:27 local time (02:27, 25 December 2016 UTC) from the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Russia, where it had landed to refuel, bound for Syria. Two minutes after takeoff, the aircraft crashed into the Black Sea, 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) from the coast. Wreckage was found at a depth of 50 to 70 metres (160 to 230 ft). All 92 people on board were killed.
By 27 December, the cockpit voice and flight data recorders had been located, and both were later recovered and sent to Moscow for analysis. By 28 December, the bodies of 18 people had been recovered from the sea. On 29 December, a third recorder, which backs up data from the CVR and FDR, was found, which, despite being damaged, could have revealed more information.
One Russian official downplayed the possibility of a terrorist attack as the cause of the crash, focusing more on the possibility of mechanical or human error. Following the crash, all Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft in Russia were grounded.
A bright flash was purportedly caught on surveillance cameras along the Sochi coastline before the crash. Witnesses told reporters the plane appeared to experience trouble in gaining altitude, turned 180 degrees, started descending and crashed into the sea.
On 27 December it was reported that an investigative source had told the Interfax news agency that Russian investigators believed a fault with the aircraft flaps had caused the crash. The Life.ru news portal was reported to have obtained a recording of the last words of one of the pilots: "Commander, we are going down." There was no official confirmation.
On 29 December it was announced by the Flight Safety Service of the Russian Ministry that a preliminary analysis of data from the cockpit voice recorder showed that no explosion had occurred on board.
On 16 January the Interstate Aviation Committee, the civil authority in aviation accident investigation, announced that its representative would participate in the investigation.
On 19 January Interfax reported that, during the underwater search, remains had also been found of a Soviet Douglas A-20 Havoc/DB-7 Boston bomber, supplied from the U.S. through the Lend-Lease agreement, which crashed on 15 November 1942.
On 31 May 2017, Russia's Kommersant said all the evidence pointed to the pilot, Maj Roman Volkov having suffered from somatogravic illusion. Analysis of the flight data suggested that the pilot had "lost his bearings and ignored his instruments, believing that the jet was climbing too sharply." Tiredness was thought to be a factor. Experts said that he was already feeling unwell on the ground and had trouble getting the plane on to the correct runway.
On 28 December, French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo published several cartoons mocking the tragedy. In response, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said: "If such, I dare say, 'artistry' is the real manifestation of 'Western values', then those who hold and support them are doomed".
^Павлов, Александр; Павлов, Александр; Тихонов, Дмитрий; Тихонов, Дмитрий; Шевченко, Ксения; Шевченко, Ксения (25 December 2016). "Катастрофа Ту-154 Минобороны России в Черном море" [Catastrophe Defense Ministry Russian Tu-154 in the Black Sea] (in Russian). ommersant.ru. Retrieved 27 December 2016 – via Kommersant.
^"Управляемая катастрофа" [Managed catastrophe] (in Russian). 31 May 2017. The Commission fully confirmed as set out in the "b" version of another January 9 that managing their pilot lost orientation in space, hitting the power of the so-called somatogravic illusions.
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