Author: Roman Kirillov

PILOTS CONVICTED FOR DISASTER DURING AIR SHOW. (By Roman Kirillov. Izvestia, June 27, 2005, p. 6. Condensed text:) The Military Appellate Court for Ukraine's Central Region passed sentence Friday [June 24] on the men responsible for the disaster that occurred on July 27, 2002, during an air show at Sknyliv Airfield [see Current Digest, Vol. 54, No. 30, p. 16]. While performing an aerobatic maneuver, an SU-27 jet crashed into a crowd of spectators, leaving 77 people dead and another 543 injured. The commander of the plane's crew, Vladimir Toponar, was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison, and copilot Yury Yegorov got eight years. ...

The occasion for the air show was the 60th anniversary of the Ukrainian Air Force's 14th Air Corps. There were more than 10,000 people gathered at Sknyliv Airfield. The SU-27 appeared in the sky at about 1 p.m. The plane was being flown by Commander Vladimir Toponar, one of the world's top test pilots, and copilot Yury Yegorov. After executing a spectacular maneuver, they were unable to pull the plane out of a dive. Overloaded with two [metric] tons of excess fuel, the plane tore across the ground, literally mowing down people and parked aircraft that were on exhibit. ... Both pilots

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bailed out and were later put on trial. ...

Stefan Kozak, chairman of a citizens' group called Sknyliv Tragedy, explained to Izvestia that Yegorov was guilty because he made the decision to eject at a point when the fighter jet's systems were still operating normally and the onboard computer had almost brought the plane level. According to Kozak, Yegorov admitted guilt in his final statement at the trial.

The court also ordered the crew commander to pay approximately $1.3 million [in compensation for damage caused], and the copilot to pay about $450,000. ...

The ...

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