Plane crash in Sheremetyevo: historical analogies

Plane crash in Sheremetyevo: historical analogies

The abundance of cameras in the modern world has led to two consequences. Firstly, the plane crash in Sheremetyevo, which was shot from many angles, practically left no one indifferent. Secondly, in the public space there was a lot of instrumental evidence that what happened. But why this happened can only show the investigation, which will take time. And instead of trying to wonder about the reasons that we should soon find out, it is better to recall similar cases from the history of aviation. Because the expansion of horizons contributes to a less emotional and more balanced assessment of what happened.

Frame from one of the cameras

British Airtours Flight 28M

Photo Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

On August 22, 1985, the Boeing 737-236 began a run up to the runway at Manchester Airport. At 36 seconds, the pilots heard a loud bang or a slam and, assuming that the landing gear had burst or the plane collided with a bird, decided to interrupt the takeoff. Nine seconds after the clap in the cab, the left engine fire alarm (# 1) went off. 45 seconds passed from the cotton to a full stop, and the plane turned off the runway onto the taxiway. On the left side of the aircraft there was a strong fire, with a weak side wind carrying flames to its tail.

Diagram from the official report

The aircraft commander managed to announce the evacuation on the right side. Before the full stop of the aircraft, the senior flight attendant began to open the right front door, but could not do it - the inflatable ladder container jammed it. Left front door managed to open 25 seconds after the stop. The evacuation of passengers began, with the flight attendant having to pull people stuck in the aisle. The senior flight attendant again tried to open the jammed right door and was able to do it 70 seconds after the stop. In the meantime, passengers in the 10th row tried to open the right emergency exit to the wing. The hatch fell on the passenger sitting by the window, but with the help of a passenger from the 11th row who pulled out the hatch back, evacuation through this exit began after about 45 seconds. The witnesses also saw an open right rear door and a puffed-up emergency gangway, but no one escaped this way. 17 people left the plane through the left front door, 34 through the right front and 27 through the right exit to the wing. The pilots left the plane through the emergency exits of the cabin. The last survivor, a boy, was pulled out of the right by the exit to the wing of the driver of a fire tender about 5.5 minutes after the plane stopped. They were unable to evacuate and 55 people died (one survivor was found unconscious near the front exits after 33 minutes, but died in the hospital). Thus, out of 131 passengers and 6 crew members, 53 passengers and both flight attendants were killed in the tail section of the aircraft.

The color indicates who left the plane through which exit. The red crosses are dead, the number of people evacuated through the right front exit does not match the official report

The cause of the fire was the destruction of the combustion chamber number 9 of the left engine, but most attention was focused on the process of evacuating passengers. The aircraft was certified, in which a full evacuation in half the exits was carried out in 75 seconds instead of the required 90.But further studies have shown that the actual evacuation conditions do not correspond to those that were for certification - frightened people behave quite differently, and a traffic jam arose in front of the aircraft. After the disaster, changes were made to the design of the salons to prevent this from happening again.

The salon quickly filled with toxic black smoke, and 48 out of 55 people died from burning with poisoning. The official report also raised the topic of smoke hoods that could save many lives in this disaster.

flight attendant in the hood is training to put out the fire

The idea of ​​supplementing emergency passengers with smoke hoods was repeatedly raised in aviation, and the US Federal Aviation Administration even put forward such a requirement in 1969, but it was withdrawn in 1970. Until now, this question remains controversial, for example, it is argued that passengers will spend time putting on hoods and evacuating more slowly, so now only flight attendants have them.

Air Canada Flight 797

On June 2, 1983, an Air Canada DC-9-32 aircraft flying on the Dallas-Toronto-Montreal route caused a fire in the tail toilet. After 17 minutes, the plane made an emergency landing. Immediately after stopping the flight attendants and passengers opened the front exits and emergency exits to the wing. 60-90 seconds after the start of the evacuation, the fire spread through the cabin. 18 passengers, 3 flight attendants and both pilots managed to evacuate, 23 passengers died. Due to the fact that the cabin was smoked and the passengers from the tail section were transplanted forward, the exact places are unknown.

Survivors and dead scheme, illustration from the official report

Due to the fact that two bodies were found in the tail section, the requirements for better illustration of the directions of emergency exits were included in the set of recommendations for improving safety. So when you see the luminous arrows on the plane to the nearest emergency exit, then know that they also appeared due to this catastrophe.

Due to the fact that the fire was discovered late and inefficiently fought with him, the flight attendants received the best fire extinguishers, smoke protection hoods and began to undergo special fire prevention training. Including after this disaster, the standard procedure was to instruct passengers how to open emergency exits to the wing.

Air France Flight 358

Connoisseurs of the history of aviation accidents can recall another story, the so-called “Miracle in Toronto”, when, on August 2, 2005, the Airbus A340 rolled out of the band, collapsed and caught fire. Then, out of 309 passengers and crew, no one died. But, in my opinion, the diagram of the use of emergency exits suggests that the incident developed very differently.

Evacuation scheme, illustration from the official report

The left tail exits L3 and L4 were blocked by fire and were not used, but two thirds of the passengers left the plane through the right tail exit R4, which clearly indicates that the fire spread much slower than in two cases higher.


Over the past since the time of the disaster in Sheremetyevo, a video has appeared that brings video from different cameras into one picture with a time reference.

Personally, I was waiting for the comment of the pilot and blogger Denis Okan, who did not write the post himself, but encouraged me to read this post reviewing procedures .

From myself I would like to add once again that it does not make sense to draw conclusions before the publication of the results of the official investigation. Clearly, the desire to do something, and the most reasonable thing I can advise, is to watch the excellent popular science series “Investigation of Air Crashes”, it’s also “Mayday”, it’s also “Air Crash Investigation”. The stories told there explain in a simple and understandable way how and why accidents and disasters happen and what is done to make flights safer.

  • British Airtours Flight 28M - Season 1 Episode 9, “Panic on the Runway”/“Panic On The Runway”
  • Air Canada Flight 797 - 3 episode 4 of the season "Fight with fire"/"Fire Fight"
  • Air France Flight 358 - Episode 4 of the season "Wonderful salvation"/"Miracle Escape"
  • “Goating” on landing - 5 episode 14 of the season “Death in Narita”/“Death At Narita”

Source text: Plane crash in Sheremetyevo: historical analogies