Pilot error likely to blame for Russian jet fighter Jan. 14 crash
KHABAROVSK, January 30 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter crash in the Far East earlier this month was likely caused by pilot error, a source close to the investigation said on Saturday.
Russia suspended SU-27 flights days after the January 14 crash until the cause of the accident is determined. There were at least two fatal crashes involving Su-27 fighters last year.
"A preliminary investigation into the crash of the Su-27 fighter jet has shown that pilot error was to blame for the accident," the source said citing deciphered information from the flight data recorders and the condition of aircraft components found on the crash site.
"The deciphered data showed the plane was in good condition before the flight," the source said.
The fighter performed a scheduled flight and was about 30 km away from its airbase in the Khabarovsk region when the accident occurred. The body of the pilot was discovered later the same day.
He said the crash is believed to have occurred when the pilot dived down to a low altitude in line with his training flight program. "The aircraft hit trees and fell into the taiga," the source said citing preliminary findings.
He said more checks are required before a final cause of the crash will be made public.
The Su-27 is a Mach-2 class air-superiority aircraft designed as a direct competitor for the heavy fourth generation Western fighters, such as the F-15 Eagle.
About 450 Su-27 aircraft have been built for the Russian Air Force since 1984, and over 200 jets have been exported to other countries, including China, Indonesia, Angola and some ex-Soviet states.
Russia used Su-27s to gain airspace control over Tskhinval, the capital of South Ossetia, during a brief war with Georgia in August 2008.
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