• Denis Evdokimov, 42, was charged with negligence today after a lightning strike in May destroyed an airliner 
  • The Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 crashed onto the Sheremetyevo runway and was engulfed in 100ft flames
  • Thirty-seven passengers survived the horror crash of the Murmansk-bound domestic flight leaving ten injured
  • New footage and pictures from The Russian Investigative Committee show the distressing carnage unfold


PUBLISHED: 09:10 EDT, 15 April 2020

Distressing new footage has emerged of passengers fleeing from an inferno jet as the Russian authorities today charged the plane’s captain with negligence after it was hit by lightning.

Forty-one people died in the blaze after the Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 crash landed at Sheremetyevo, Moscow’s business international airport.

A video that forms part of the criminal investigation shows flames more than 100ft high engulfing the aircraft, yet 37 escaped from the horror.

Captain Denis Evdokimov, 42, has claimed he is being made a scapegoat after his Murmansk-bound domestic flight was hit by lightning soon after takeoff.

He faces up to seven years in jail if convicted.

He returned to the airport making a rough ‘jumping’ emergency landing which led to fire engulfing the plane on 5 May last year, separate footage shows.

The new video shows the plane spin to a halt with its rear engulfed in toxic flames.

After some 17 seconds the first front chute is opened and four seconds later the first passenger escapes onto the tarmac.

The second chute is opened after 30 seconds.

 Passengers from the front of the plane slide out of the aircraft and run from the burning Superjet.

The emergency services are seen arriving and seeking to extinguish the inferno.

 The Russian Investigative Committee announced today that Evdokimov had been formally charged with violation of safety rules and the negligent control of his plane leading mass deaths, harm to health and major damage.

His failure to control the lightning-hit Sueprjet ‘resulted in the destruction … of the aircraft’ killing 40 passengers and one crew member.

Ten people were injured.

In all, 37 people escaped alive from the carnage. 

State investigators in charge of ‘particularly important cases’ say the actions of air traffic control and the emergency services on the ground were probed.

They were found not to be responsible for the loss of life.

Nor were there problems with the aircraft to prevent a safe emergency landing, said the committee.

‘Investigators and experts studied the data of the flight recorders of the crashed aircraft, according to which during the flight the aircraft adequately responded to the pilot’s control actions,’ said a statement.

The captain’s lawyer Natalya Mitusova claim the experienced Aeroflot pilot is being made a scapegoat after suspicions that the authorities are seeking to protect the reputation of the Superjet, a Russian-made aircraft over which safety concerns have been raised.

She claimed the aircraft did not ‘obey’ the pilot as he took manual control of the aircraft after the lightning strike. 

The dispute centres on what happened to the stricken plane when it was hit by lightning soon after taking off from Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow.

Prosecutors say he botched the landing coming in at too steep an angle.

This resulted in the rough landing when broken landing gear pierced the fuel tank igniting the plane in flames.

Most of the 41 victims of the disaster died from carbon monoxide poisoning or were burned alive.

It was ‘was thrown from side to side’ and did not respond to his movements of the controls due to paralysis after the emergency.

There was an ‘incorrect reaction of the aircraft’ to the pilot’s actions in only the fourth time a superset had been landed fully manually, she said.

The captain also claims that once on the ground a rear plane door was opened in violation of his orders and this led to the inferno on the exterior of the Superjet engulfing the passenger cabin.

Most passengers who died were sitting in the rear or middle section of the aircraft.

Without the rear emergency door having been opened, passengers would have had time to leave the cabin, claims the pilot.

‘Someone from the crew or passengers opened the door, after which the fire entered the cabin,’ said Mitusova.

Evdokimov’s legal team also allege ground rescue services was slow to get to the scene.

The video was cut so it is not possible to be sure of the time it took before spraying started – but passengers were still emerging at this point.

Investigators say the Superjet has been hit by lightning on 16 previous occasions, but this was the only time it led to catastrophe.

Heroic Aeroflot flight attendants saved dozens of those on board the Moscow to Murmansk flight but 41 perished in the inferno either burned alive or overcome by toxic fumes.

Prosecutors want a maximum seven years jail for the Evdokimov, whose father was a respected military pilot and Soviet air force major general.

Svetlana Petrenko, spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative Committee, said:’Actions by Evdokimov violated the existing regulations and led to the destruction and outbreak of fire.

‘As a result, 40 passengers and one crew member were killed, and (ten) others were badly injured.’

In the aftermath of the horror, there were claims of serious technical problems on the SuperJet – a plane supported by Vladimir Putin – were to blame.