Interview with Nikolay Baranov

Nikolay Baranov, an aviation expert, commented on the crash of an An-12 cargo plane near Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.

Russia Today: What do you think may be the most probable cause of the incident?

N.B.: I believe there may be two main reasons for the crash. One is piloting error – the human factor – second is equipment failure. A plane can certainly fall due to external causes, for instance after hitting a bird, but we are not at war now and aircraft are not  brought down, so I’d put external factors low on the list. There are other possible causes but they were already eliminated, since the traffic control said the plane was not overloaded. Its cargo weighted some 10 tons, while An-12 can lift up to 20 tons depending on how much fuel it takes. But there was no overload reported, so the two main reasons are those I’ve mentioned – piloting error or equipment failure.

RT: Is the An-12 a reliable aircraft?

N.B.: It’s a very reliable aircraft, equipped with four engines. I used to pilot one. In one case I saw a fully loaded An-12 successfully land with just one engine working. Well, if two engines on one wing fail, it could create extreme torque, and some details of today’s crash suggest that this was the case. On the other hand, traffic control and engineers say it’s just been serviced, so I wouldn’t say the accident was due to equipment failure alone. I think the human factor is more likely. However, the plane was built in 1964, it’s been in service for more then 40 years – its lifecycle was almost over. So I wouldn’t eliminate the first version as well.

RT: Recently, there were some concerns over flaws in Russian pilot training. Could it have contributed for the accident?

N.B.: The problem is that we are lacking in the quality of training of our young pilots, but an aircraft like this is unlikely to be entrusted to a young pilot. I don’t think this could have contributed to the crash.

RT: This is clearly  bad news for Russian aviation. Do you think the bad safety record will damage the industry?

N.B.: I don’t think so. I believe Russian aviation will develop independently. An-12s will be replaced by new models. They are already on the drawing boards.