News24

Pilot of crashed Sukhoi aimed to impress

2012-05-14 10:59

Jakarta - The pilot of a Russian passenger jet that crashed into a mountain near Jakarta last week performed manoeuvres to impress potential buyers during one of its two flights in Indonesia, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The secretary general of the Indonesian National Air Carrier Association, Tengku Burhanuddin, said the Sukhoi Superjet 100's pilot pushed the aircraft to show its capacity to potential buyers during the first demonstration flight on Wednesday, the day of the crash, The Jakarta Post reported.

"They wanted to prove how good the Superjet 100 was," the Post quoted Burhanuddin, a passenger on the first flight, as saying. "That is what people do when they look for potential customers."

That first flight ended without incident, but the Sukhoi slammed into Mount Salak during the second demonstration flight. All 45 people on board were presumed dead.

Burhanuddin told the Post that on the first flight, the pilot descended from cruising altitude, a manoeuvre that allowed passengers to get a closer look at the ground in conditions resembling a conventional landing.

"It was a fantastic ride," he said. "As a person who loves aircraft, I can say that I still felt comfortable sitting in the passenger seat."

Too early to speculate

Burhanuddin said he thought the Sukhoi "cruised smoother, faster and with less noise than a Boeing or an Airbus".

The director general of civil aviation at Indonesia's Transport Ministry said on Sunday that investigators were searching for the aircraft's flight data recorders and it was too early to speculate on the cause of the accident.

Russia has sent more than 70 people to Indonesia to help with victim identification and the investigation.

The victims were mostly Indonesians but included eight Russians, one French national and one American.

The aircraft disappeared from radar 20 minutes after it took off from Halim Perdanakusuma airport in Jakarta.

Officials said the crew had asked for permission to descend from 3 000 to 1 800m before the aircraft disappeared. Mount Salak is 2 200m high.

The Superjet 100 is the newest major aircraft produced by Russia's aerospace industry and the country's main hope of breaking into the lucrative international passenger aircraft market. It is designed to carry 75 to 95 passengers on intermediate-range routes.