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Why Did the Aeroflot Flight 6502 Crash?

Aeroflot is the flag carrier and largest airline in Russia. They also have a relatively high number of fatal crashes, coming in second right next to the United States. As of today, with the new safety protocols and technology, they are as safe as any other airline. But did you know why the Aeroflot Flight 6502 crashed?

A Russian commercial pilot made a bet with the first officer that he could land the plane blind, with curtains over the cockpit windows. Unfortunately, he lost the bet and crashed the plane, killing 70 people aboard.

The Aeroflot Flight 6502

The Aeroflot Flighty 6502 was a Russian domestic passenger flight operated by a Tupolev Tu-134A from Yekaterinburg to Grozny. The aircraft was manufactured on June 28, 1979, and was run by the pilot in command, Alexander Kliuyev, along with co-pilot Gennady Zhirnov and navigating officer Ivan Mokhonko. (Source: Aviation Safety Network)

The Crash of the Aeroflot Flight 6502

The Aeroflot Flight 6502 crashed on October 20, 1986. Seventy out of the 94 passengers and crew aboard were killed. During the cruise over the Ural Mountains, the co-pilot, Zhirnov, had a bright idea of putting the lead pilot’s skills to the test. The terms of the bet were pretty simple. The pilot in command, Kliuyev, needed to land the plane loaded with innocent passengers, using only the flight instruments available. He was not allowed to see where he was going. The curtains of the cockpit windows were closed.

According to investigations, the bet started at 3:49 PM, just two minutes before the plane was due to land. Kliuyev was quite confident with his skills that he ordered the flight engineer to pull the curtains down to attempt the said blind landing. 

As the plane closed in on the ground, alarms started to go off to warn Kliuyev. The recordings revealed that the air traffic controllers suggested that he try a non-precision approach that did not require vertical guidance. The closer the plane got to the ground, caused the controllers to tell Kliuyev to pull back and reposition his landing prudently. But the bold Kliuyev refused to listen to the advice of ground control and continued to approach the runway.

He eventually lost control of the aircraft. Kliuyev miscalculated the speed and altitude of the descent. Because of this error, both pilots started to panic and lifted the blinds to see how to rectify the situation, but it was already too late. The airplane crashed at a speed of 280 kilometers per hour, causing it to overturn and catch fire. (Source: History of Yesterday)

What Happened After the Crash?

Ironically, both bettors, Kliuyev and Zhirnov, survived the initial impact of the crash. Unfortunately, Zhirnov died from a heart attack on the way to the hospital. Kliuyev, on the other hand, lived and stood on trial for his recklessness. He was sentenced to serve fifteen years. The court found that the crash was completely avoidable and that the people aboard died because of Kliuyev’s arrogance. Due to the impact of Aeroflot Flight 6502, Russian authorities withheld images of the crash back then. (Source: History of Yesterday)

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