Superjet Pilots Blamed For Indonesia Crash

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Indonesian investigators say the pilots aboard a Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner that crashed into a mountain last May, killing all 45 on board, were to blame for the crash. They said the crew ignored repeated warnings from the aircraft's systems of the impending terrain conflicts because they thought the alerts were the result of a database problem. In fact, it appears the crew never knew what they hit since they turned off the terrain avoidance functions just before the aircraft, on a demo flight with potential customers, hit Mt. Salak. According to The Associated Press, cockpit voice recordings show the captain of the aircraft was chatting with a potential customer as the aircraft hit the mountain.

The AP quotes Tatang Kurniadi, chairman of Indonesia's National Commission on Safety Transportation, as saying the accident was the result of pilot error perhaps compounded by the pilots' lack of familiarity with the area. "The crew was not aware of the mountainous area surrounding the flight path," Kurniadi said. The crash cast a shadow on the Superjet program, which is Russia's first clean-sheet airliner design in decades. Indonesia, however, expressed confidence in the aircraft after the crash. About a month before the investigation results were publicly released, the Indonesian government certified the aircraft and paved the way for Sky Aviation to take delivery of its 12-plane order.