ANALYSIS: 2006-08-22 Crash of Pulkovo Flight 612 near Donetsk

(click on image to view article at TheGuardian.com)

(click on image to view article at TheGuardian.com)

Pulkovo Flight 612 crashed at approximately 11:39 AM local time, near Donetsk, Ukraine. The accident flight was primarily carrying passengers northbound from Anapa (just east of Crimea) to St. Petersburg, on a return flight after resort vacations along the Black Sea.

Russian officials were quick to release detailed flight data, including the cockpit voice recording (CVR) and transcript within six weeks. Official investigators concluded that the pilots essentially lost control and went into a stall and flat spin, after interacting with a powerful thunderstorm.

The accident airline, Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise, had been founded in 1932 but ceased operations just two months after this crash (though, the merger into Rossiya Airlines was initiated in 2004). Thus, this was a legacy airline in Russia United, TWA, Pan Am, and American in the United States.

Evidence & Documentation:

Here’s a short video, captured via cellphone by what appears to be a group of local Ukrainian kids:

A transcript (translated to English) covers the final 5.5 minutes of the flight, and has been posted at this link.

Here’s a technical (but fascinating) video, presenting a simulation of the aircraft during the final minutes, with the actual cockpit voice recording superimposed. This was not posted onto YouTube until December 2013, and not many people have studied it, but it offers a deep analysis of the flight data leading to a sudden climb, a stall, a flat spin, and a steady uncontrollable descent to a crash. Note that the display shows times (in the orange band at top), altitude (indexed as ‘H’ and tracked via a black line), climb rate (‘KR’, teal line), airspeed (‘V’, top brown line), heading (red line, in upper area…note the sawtooth oscillations during the final minutes, reflecting a spin), nose-up or nose-down attitude (bottom brown line), and much more. The data can also be tracked in the color-coded index, to the right of display.

Note especially the significant events

  1. the first flat spin (see red-line box pattern, from time 11:35:20 to time 11:35:42)
  2. the gradual airspeed decline (see brown line ‘V’, from time 11:34:35 to time 11:35:45)
  3. and, the massive drop in airspeed at around time 11:35:48.

And, here’s a similar video, but with better audio quality, which may inform those who have the language skills. The crew appears to include five, and they are speaking Russian. Click through to YouTube to watch/listen; also, even if you lack the right language skills, you can use the translate function (e.g., cut/paste into Google Translate) to read the many interesting comments added by viewers:

At least one accident investigative report is viewable online, though printed in Russian. It appears to have been produced by the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK), which is essentially the Russian equivalent of FAA. Try this weblink for a PDF copy. A translation to English would be an interesting project (and would be greatly appreciated here, for re-posting, with credit).