By Rytis Beresnevicius
The pilot of the Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet aircraft, which crashed in Moscow and resulted in 41 fatalities, has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Denis Evdokimov, the captain on the 2019 fatal flight, attempted an emergency landing at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) as the aircraft u-turned from its destination of Murmansk due to an in-flight lightning strike. However, as the flight crew attempted to land the aircraft, the Russian-made aircraft slammed into the ground, with the aircraft erupting in flames shortly after.
According to a news report by Interfax from December 2019, the investigators concluded that the captain was at fault as “actions by Evdokimov to control the aircraft, committed in violation of the established rules, led to the destruction and fire of the aircraft, resulting in the death of 40 passengers and one crew member”, a report by the Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) was quoted by the Russian news agency.
Evdokimov pleaded not guilty during the trial, reiterating his position from April 2020 when his lawyer, Natalia Mitusova, was cited by Interfax as saying that the “preliminary investigation was incomplete, biased and not comprehensive.
Our client is innocent,” said Mitusova. According to Mitusova, the captain was accused “based on the actual results of two examinations carried out in the case – aviation technical and flight”, while experts failed to answer whether the aircraft was operable at the time.
“The flight examination was carried out by a person who does not have experience, skills and knowledge of operating an aircraft of this model, since it ended its career in 2009, and the Sukhoi Superjet was certified in 2011,” added Mitusova at the time.
The crash also resulted in the “complete destruction of the aircraft and, as a result, major damage in the amount of more than 1 billion 570 million rubles ($17.7 million) to the owner, VEB-Leasing Joint-Stock Company,” according to a statement by the Russian authorities published by Interfax.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on its aerospace industry, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) announced its intentions to exit the Superjet program in March 2023, selling its shares in SuperJet International to Mark AB Capital, an investment firm based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In June 2023, SuperJet International, which previously marketed the Superjet to international markets, announced that it will establish a manufacturing facility in the UAE.