24 Years ago today: On 18 March 1997 a Stavropolskaya Antonov 24 crashed near Cherkessk, Russia following in-flight break-up due to corrosion killing all 50 occupants.

Date:Tuesday 18 March 1997
Type:Silhouette image of generic AN24 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Antonov An-24RV
Operator:Stavropolskaya Aktsionernaya Avia
C/n / msn:37308502
First flight:1973
Total airframe hrs:41181
Engines:Ivchenko AI-24VT
Crew:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 44 / Occupants: 44
Total:Fatalities: 50 / Occupants: 50
Aircraft damage:Destroyed
Aircraft fate:Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:1 km (0.6 mls) E of Cherkessk (   Russia)
Phase:En route (ENR)
Nature:Int’l Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Stavropol Airport (STW/URMT), Russia
Destination airport:Trabzon Airport (TZX/LTCG), Turkey

The Stavropol aircraft took off from Stavropol Airport for a flight to Trabzon. 37 Minutes after takeoff, while cruising at FL197, the Antonov lost altitude and crashed into a forest. Wreckage was scattered across a 2 mile area. The tail section was found a mile away from the main wreckage. It appeared that massive corrosion of the fuselage (30th to 34th bulkhead) had caused the tail section to separate. The aircraft had been operating in humid weather conditions within Congo for 16 months.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “The accident was caused by a combination of the following factors: the superficial mechanical inspection of the aircraft which was carried out without the use of monitoring instruments, and the subsequent unjustified decision to extend the time between overhauls and the service life; violation of requirements in force by extending the overhaul life of the aircraft without taking maintenance as regards determination of the degree of corrosion and corrosion fatigue in hard-to-reach areas of the aircraft; inadequate monitoring in operation to determine the state of structural elements and detect the presence of corrosion in hard-to-reach areas under the floor of the fuselage; failure to carry out prescribed anti-corrosion measures on the aircraft structure during overhaul at the maintenance center and in operation.”