Aircraft accidents are not as common as we may think. This is the very reason why they would often make the front-page news. But did you know that technical or mechanical problems did not cause some crashes?
The crash of Aeroflot Flight 593 happened when the pilot’s 16-year-old son disengaged the autopilot when he was in the cockpit with his father and sister. This triggered a series of events that led to the plane crashing, killing 63 passengers and 12 crew members.
What Happened on the Flight?
Aeroflot Flight 593 was a regular passenger flight from Sheremetyevo Internationational Airport in Moscow headed to Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong. The Airbus A310-304 was flown by Aeroflot, the flag carrier of the Russian Federation. It was operating on a regular route until it crashed into the Kuznetsk Alatau mountain range in Kemerovo Oblast. The crash killed all 63 passengers and 12 crew members aboard.
Upon investigation, authorities confirmed that there was no evidence of any technical malfunction. But what they discovered was even more disturbing. The cockpit voice and flight data recorders revealed the presence of the relief pilot’s children on the flight deck. The 12-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son were in the cockpit. While they were seated at the controls, the pilot’s son disengaged the A310’s autopilot control. The autopilot completely disengaged and caused the airplane to roll into a steep bank and a near-vertical dive.
Vsevolod Ovcharvo, a state air-safety investigator, says that the children were just one of the factors in the chain of events and fateful circumstances. (Source: NY Times)
What Was Discovered on the Recordings?
The cockpit voice records of the Aeroflot jetliner confirm that the pilot’s son was at the controls when the plane took a dive. The translated transcript of the tape was published in 1994 where the voices of the relief pilot, Yaroslav Vladimirovich Kudrinsky, his son Eldar, and daughter Yana.
Yana: Daddy, can I turn this?
Kudrinsky points out stars and city lights and strictly warns her not to push any buttons.
The situation turned terrifying when the pilot’s son took over the wheel.
Kudrinsky: Turn it! Watch the ground as you turn. Let’s go left. Turn left! Is the plane turning?
Four minutes later
Eldar: Why is it turning?
Kudrinsky: It’s turning by itself?
It was at this point that the plane began to dive. On record, a low whistling sound and a roar could be heard, and for the next few minutes, the tape records the crew’s frantic efforts to regain control of the aircraft.
Turning the wheel apparently shut off the automatic pilot. He said that this would not have happened in a Russian-made plane, and that the crew apparently did not notice. The boy’s foot accidentally pushed the right pedal, sending the aircraft into a spin. The situation became irreversible.Vsevolod Ovcharov
(Source: NY Times)
Were Children Allowed in the Cockpit During That Time?
Aeroflot hired Yaroslav Vladimirovich Kudrinsky in November 1992. He had over 8,940 flying hours. Nine hundred seven of which were on A310. He was taking his two children on their first international flight, and they were brought to the cockpit while he was on duty. The autopilot was active, and even though it was against regulations, Kudrinsky let the children sit at the controls. (Source: NY Times)