Armavia Airbus A320-211 plane crash
Off Sochi, Russia
The A320 operating Armavia flight RNV 967 from Erevan (Armenia), to Sochi (Russia) disappeared from radar screens while it
was performing its second approach.
The crew had first decided to abort the landing because of the weather conditions, and to come back to the departure airport. A few minutes later, the crew finally decided to land at Sochi airport. During this second approach, the plane plummeted into the black sea 6 km off shore. The crew did not send any distress call. All 105 passengers and 8 crew members were killed. At the time of the accident, the weather conditions were poor: horizontal visibility reduced at 1,500 m and vertical visibility reduced at 500 ft, presence of thunder clouds, light wind and light rain showers.
The black boxes and parts of the plane have been rapidly localised at a depth of 1500 ft (450 meters). The black boxes have been recovered and analysed. It was reported that the technical side was not to blame, and the whole blame is put on the “human factor”. But it is not reported whether it was the pilot or the air traffic controller.
Questions are raised to understand why the crew decided to land at Sochi airport under poor weather conditions after having initially decided to come back to their departure airport. The crash could be due to a speed loss, leading to a stall. The aircraft altitude was not enough make a recovery maneuver.
An unaddressed but widely embraced speculation circulated that human error was to blame for the deaths. Specifically, as it is popularly known, the first few days of May are traditionally days of heavy drinking in Russia. Some believe that control tower personnel were incapacitated by vodka and were incapable of performing their duties. The rumour was fuelled especially after Sochi authorities were said to have secluded the air traffic controller on duty the night of May 3.
Another version of the cause of the disaster is that a brawl broke out by powerful persons on board who demanded that the pilot lands the plane, regardless of safety concerns.
The A320, registered under the number EK-32009, began operating for Armavia in February 2004. The aircraft had accumulated over 28,200 flight hours in close to 14,400 flights.