Sknyliv air show disaster
The Sknyliv air show disaster occurred on Saturday July 27, 2002, when a Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 of the Ukrainian Falcons crashed during an aerobatics presentation at Sknyliv airfield near Lviv, Ukraine. 77 people were killed and 543 injured, 100 of whom were hospitalised. It is the deadliest air show accident in history.
Over 10,000 spectators attended the air show, staged to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Ukrainian Air Force's 14th Air Corps. At 12:52pm, the Su-27 aircraft – flown by two experienced pilots – entered a rolling maneuver with a downward trajectory at low altitude; having rolled upright once more the aircraft was still descending rapidly and the left wing dropped shortly before the aircraft hit the ground, at which point the crew initiated ejection. The aircraft flattened out initially, skidding over the ground towards stationary aircraft, striking a glancing blow against the nose of an Il-76 transport aircraft before beginning to explode and cartwheel into the crowd of spectators. Both pilots survived with minor injuries.
77 spectators were killed, including 19 children (though initial reports put the number of dead at 85). Another 100 were hospitalized for head injuries, burns, and bone fractures. Other injuries were less severe and did not require hospitalization: a total of 543 people were injured during the incident.
Following the disaster, the pilots stated that the flightmap they had received differed from the actual layout. On the flight data recorder, one pilot asks, "And where are our spectators?" Others have suggested that the pilots were slow to react to automated warnings issued by the flight computer.
Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma publicly blamed the military for the disaster and dismissed the head of the air force, Volodymyr Strelnykov. The defense minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko sent in his resignation, but it was rejected by Kuchma.
On June 24, 2005, a military court sentenced pilot Volodymyr Toponar and co-pilot Yuriy Yegorov to fourteen and eight years in prison, respectively. The court found the two pilots and three other military officials guilty of failing to follow orders, negligence and violating flight rules. Two of the three officials were sentenced to up to six years in prison, and the last official received up to four years. In addition, Toponar was ordered to pay 7.2 million hryvnia ($1.42 million; €1.18 million) in compensation to the families, and Yegorov another 2.5 million hryvnia. The crew's main flight trainer was acquitted for lack of evidence. Yegorov was released in 2013.
While the pilots were assigned the majority of the blame, which included accusations of attempting maneuvers that they were not experienced with, Toponar had requested an additional training flight at the airfield where the display was to be performed; this request was denied.
After the verdict was announced, Toponar said he planned to appeal, insisting the crash was due to technical problems and a faulty flight plan.
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