1994 Vanavara air disaster

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1994 Vanavara air disaster
Yakovlev Yak-40, Aero Limousine JP7766396.jpg
A Yak-40 similar to the one involved in the disaster
Date 26 September 1994
Summary Fuel exhaustion due to pilot error
Site Vanavary, Evenki Autonomous District, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia
Aircraft type Yakovlev Yak-40
Operator Cheremshanka Airlines
Registration RA-87468
Flight origin Krasnoyarsk Airport , Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia
Destination Tura Airport, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia
Passengers 24
Crew 4
Fatalities 28 (all)
Survivors 0

The 1994 Vanavara air disaster occurred on 26 September 1994 when a Yakovlev Yak-40, operated by Russian regional airliner Cheremshanka Airlines crashed onto the bank of a river near Vanavara, Russia. The plane was carrying 24 passengers and 4 crews, in which everyone was killed in the crash.[1]

Russian investigation team concluded that pilot error was the cause of the crash. The pilot failed to observe the condition of the plane, where at the time of the accident, the fuel was at a critically low level. The situation was later worsened by the bad weather condition, which caused the crew to abort their landings several times. Subsequently, the investigation team blamed the airport for "not reporting the weather condition" in a timely manner to the crew.[1][2]


The plane involved in the crash was a Yakovlev Yak-40 which bore a Russian registration of RA-87468. The plane was manufactured in Saratov Aviation Plant on 11 November 1974 with a serial number of 9441337. The plane was re-registered as CCCP-87468 and was handed over to the Ministry of Civil Aviation of the USSR. On November 16 the plane was sent to the Kazakh Civil Aviation Administration. Fourteen years later, on 16 November 1988, the 87468 was operated by the Krasnoyarsk Civil Aviation Administration. Cheremshanka Airlines later retrieved the plane in 1993.[3]

The total operating time of the plane was 22,203 flight hours and a flight cycle of 17,220 cycles.[3]


The flight was operated by Cheremshanka Airlines, a regional airliner based at Krasnoyark Cheremshanka Airport. The Yakovlev Yak-40 was carrying 24 passengers and 4 crews, consisting of 21 adults and 3 children. The pilot of the flight was Captain Danilov A. A and the co-pilot was First Officer Shcherbakov A. G. The rest of the crew were Shurpatov, the flight's mechanic and A. Krotov, the flight's flight attendant.[3]

While the plane was en route to Tura Airport, the weather deteriorated. The bad weather condition should have been informed by the ATC worker in Tura so the crew of the flight could have anticipated the condition, but no such things were done by the ATC controller. The crew were unaware of this condition and were surprised after they arrived in Tura. Due to the limited visibility, the crew missed the airport. They attempted their landing attempt for three times, but to no avail. The crew then decided to divert their landing to Vanavara airfield, a small airport in Vanavara, which was 453 kilometers away from Tura Airport.[3]

41 kilometers from Vanavara, at a height of 3,000 meters, the plane ran out of fuel. The engines burst and stopped working. The crew then decided to make an emergency landing in a swamp. Crews of two helicopters and an An-24 aircraft were trying to help, suggesting the Yak-40's direction to the swamps, where it would be possible to make an emergency landing. The crew then changed their minds, and finally decided to land the plane in the bank of Chamba River.[3]

Captain Danilov then ordered First Officer Shcherbakov and Mechanic Shurpatov to look out from the window and see if they could find the Chamba River. The landing gear was later extended by the crew and the plane started its initial descent. At a speed of 235 km/h, the plane sheared tree tops and the right wing detached from the plane. The plane then rolled severely to the right and crashed into the bank of Chamba River in an inverted condition, with the front portion landed on the water and the rear side of the plane landed on the shore. As the plane ran out of fuel, the plane didn't explode. However, the impact was not survivable. All 28 people on board were killed.[3]

Footage from the crash site, taken from a helicopter, shown that the front part of the plane was completely destroyed. The empennage of the plane was crushed severely while the tail was relatively intact. Dead bodies, alongside with their belongings, were strewn in a large grassy area near the wreckage of the plane.[3]


The investigation was hampered by the fact that the crew's conversation between them and the ATC controller at Tura Airport was, somehow, "disappeared" since A.M Chernov, who was the owner of Cheremshanka Airlines, ordered the Russian investigative committee to withdrew their investigation from the crash. He ordered that before the records were transferred to the investigation team, he should listened it first. After the records were going to be transferred to the Russian investigation team, investigators somehow didn't find any more records inside, which could indicate a possible sabotage by Chernov.[3]

The investigation then revealed that there were several serious shortcomings in the organization of flight work in Cheremshanka Airlines, as well as in the state of providing flight safety in the air traffic control at Tura Airport. Employees of the ATC of the Tura airport even wrote letters and at trade union meetings raised the issue that their organization of their work and the state of ensuring the safety of flights in the ATC are at a dangerously low level. However, in all these cases, the management of the Tura Aviation Enterprise did not eliminate these shortcomings, and the Krasnoyarsk regional air transport department did not control its work properly.[3]

Conclusion from Russian investigative team

The commission investigating the incident concluded that the catastrophe occurred due to a number of factors:

  • The crew incorrectly calculated the fuel supply required for the flight
  • The duty navigator of Cheremshanka Airport VA Tsurikov did not carry out control over the preparation of the crew for the flight;
  • The dispatcher did not inform the crew in a timely manner about the sharp deterioration of weather at Tura Airport
  • With a shortage of fuel on board, the crew chose a spare Vanavara airfield, to which was four and a half hundred kilometers, although Baykit airfield was a hundred kilometers closer (354 kilometers).
  • When approaching in Vanavara, the crew incorrectly chose the flight level, as well as the point of the beginning of the descent.


  1. ^ a b "Crash of a Yakovlev Yak-40 in Vanavara: 28 killed". Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives. Archived from the original on 2017-04-21. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
  2. ^ "Plane crashes for airlines of Russia and the former Soviet Union". AirSafe.com.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Авиационные происшествия, инциденты и авиакатастрофы в СССР и России" (in Russian). Air Disasters.ru.

External links

  • Crash site of the disaster, taken from a helicopter

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