Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Aircraft down in Moscow

An aircraft has crashed at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport, but the media reports about the accident are somewhat confusing. I've waited all day to post, hoping that the details of this story would clear up. So far the picture is still quite muddy.

The earliest reports today said that the aircraft was an Airbus. Later reports said it was a Challenger 850. At least one report described it as a Canadair Special Edition. Several reports concurred that the flight was en route to Berlin from Moscow.

Some reports said that there were three crew aboard the aircraft. Other reports said that there were four crew. Apparently there were no passengers.

Several reports mentioned injuries, but it's unclear how many people were injured or how serious their injuries might be.

Here are a few samples of the various stories about this accident.

First we have an early story from the Russian news website, Interfax - A310 crashes at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport...:
An Airbus A310 reportedly crashed during takeoff at Moscow's Vnukovo airport.

The plane was on regular flight No. 8991 from Moscow to Berlin, but there were no passengers on board, Russian Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov told Interfax.
Forbes.com also ran an Associated Press story early this morning that said it was an Airbus that had crashed.

A little later we started hearing that it was a Challenger, not an Airbus. For example, this Associated Press story on CNN - Jet Flips in Snowstorm, None Dead:
A corporate jet carrying only its crew crashed at a Moscow airport on Tuesday while taking off during a snowstorm, officials said. Everyone on board survived.

Before the twin-engine Challenger 850 crashed, a fire broke out on board as it took off from Vnukovo airport on a flight to Berlin, Transport Ministry spokesman Timur Khikmatov said.

Khikmatov said four crew members were on board and two were injured. Emergency and aviation officials initially said there were three crew members, and some had identified the plane as an Airbus A-310.

Air traffic controller Konstantin Fyodorov told state-run television that the plane caught fire and overturned while taking off.
The German publication Der Spiegel ran a story titled Small Jet Crashes at Moscow Airport:
A small private plane carrying three pilots has crashed at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, an airport spokewoman said, denying initial reports that it was a passenger jet operated by German airline Germanwings.

The "Challenger" aircraft owned by a Swiss company was taking off from Moscow and was bound for Berlin, the spokeswoman said.
Then Reuters got into the act. The Reuters report also said that the aircraft was a Challenger 850, but contradicted the "Swiss-owned" part of Der Spiegel 's story.
An airport spokeswoman said: "A Challenger 850 operated by a Swiss company caught fire on take-off. There were three crew on board with no passengers. One crew member was injured but all three have been hospitalized."

Geneva-based TAG-Aviation refuted claims by the airport spokeswoman that it owned the jet, made by Canada's Bombardier. A marketing manager for the company said it had previously managed the aircraft which was now in the hands of another firm.
By late this afternoon, everyone finally seemed to concur that it was not an Airbus and that the crew all had survived. (Still unclear if there were three or four and exactly how many were injured!)

Next, the Canadian press took an interest, since the accident involved a Canadian-made aircraft. Here's an excerpt from an article on Canada.com:
Russian news agencies say all three were Americans and that all survived, although two were injured.

Russian officials say the plane, a twin-engine Canadair Special Edition, crashed after it caught fire while taking off in a snowstorm on a flight to Berlin.

The plane’s operator, Moscow-based Fort Aero, said there were three crew members on board, and that two were hospitalized.

A Fort Aero spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, would not disclose the nationality of the crew members.

Airport spokesman Konstantin Konanykhin said one crew member was Russian and the other two were foreigners.

Emergency officials initially said the plane was a larger Airbus A-310. However, officials later said it was a Challenger 850, made by Quebec-based Bombardier.

Bombardier spokeswoman Sylvie Gauthier said the manufacturer has had no problems with the aircraft, which she said was a Canadair Special Edition put into service in 1997. One of eight such aircraft in the world, it is a corporate variance of the CRJ100-200 series regional planes and a predecessor to the Challenger 850.
Note the contradictory crew info: One paragraph says all three were Americans and two were injured. In a later paragraph in the same article they say two crew were 'foreigners' and the other was Russian.

I'll keep trying to get the straight information, and when I do, I'll post it. Meanwhile, if any readers learn anything about this accident from a reliable source, feel free to post it in the 'comments.'