Sukhoi 100 crash press coverage- case study of bad information flow

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Even in a controlled environment, press coverage is distorted

Even government officials speak loudly, but without proof

NTSB gag rule makes immense sense!!!

Discourse Turns Divisive as SSJ100 Crash Probe Nears End

Authorities estimated the consequences of the crash of the SSJ-100 in Sheremetyevo

Russia’s Aeroflot Scales Back Superjet Flights Following Fatal Crash

Aeroflot SSJ100 Crash-Landing Uncovers Troubles in Russian Aviation

Russia’s Aeroflot Cancels Dozens of Flights Following Tragic Plane Crash

EASA Joins Investigation of Sukhoi Superjet 100 Catastrophe at Moscow Airport

Accident investigations have the potential to attract an abnormal amount of attention. The May 5 crash of Sukhoi’s/Russia’s SSJ 100 had all of the elements to assure that the public discourse on this tragic event would be a forum of the absurd. The multiplier effects:

The SSJ 100 is (was?) the future global trade aircraft of this proud nation

There was extensive video of the bouncing landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport

 a horrendous fire

Indeed the commentary on this tragedy has been filled with hyperbole, vituperation, speculation and premature conclusions.

Some observations:

“’EASA has established immediate contacts with the Russian Authority to monitor the progress of this investigation since the very beginning, and to participate at the extent that is allowed by the existing rules, so that timely safety actions could be taken as soon as deemed necessary when the causes of the accident are understood,’ the press service said.

According to EASA, the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) will also take part in the investigation into the incident as a representative of the country that designed engines of the crashed plane.”


+ Having a well-respected organization like BEA should help.

-EASA issued an airworthiness certificate based on its reliance on the findings of Federal Air Transportation Agency (Rosaviatsiya) [FATA], but later expressed some concerns about the Russian organization.











“Russia’s national flag carrier Aeroflot has canceled at least 50 Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ 100) flights since a crash landing of the Russian-made aircraft killed 41 people last week.

The deadly SSJ landing in Moscow on May 5 ended in the plane’s tail section catching fire on the runway and raised questions about the jet’s safety. A day after the disaster, regional carrier Yamal Airlines said it was cancelling its planned purchase of 10 SSJ 100 planes.”


-Announcing cancellations of flights BEFORE any probable cause has been announced sends a message that Aeroflot know something not yet disclosed to the public. The problem may have been the Sukhoi’s bad record in supplying replacement parts, but that explanation was not made.

-Yamal’s cancellation is an example of a unnecessarily premature action,







May 30 “After the Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 crash-landed at Sheremetyevo airport claiming the lives of 41 people out of 78, Russian aviation has come under close scrutiny. Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chayka says the problems are serious.

Addressing the Russian parliament, Prosecutor General stressed that the aviation industry needs attention as the Russian state program aimed to ensure flight safety does not meet international standards and the last time was updated in 2008.

Also, Chayka said there are problems in the area of aircraft maintenance, certification and aviation personnel training.


-The Prosecutor’s comments are worthy of an American politician. If he is privy to facts of the investigation, he has violated Russia’s prohibition against disclosing information from that process.

+ Perhaps from a broader perspective, his statement serves as a courageous admission of his nascent industry’s shortcomings?










“In one case, frightened passengers on a Sukhoi refused to continue their journey after an aborted take-off, forcing Aeroflot to lay on an Airbus instead, an airline industry source with direct knowledge of the matter said, a version of events corroborated separately by Russia’s RIA news agency.

Aeroflot after the crash began paying extra attention to safety checks and to scale back the Superjet’s usage to try to reassure passengers, the same source said.

More than 213,000 people have signed a petition demanding the plane be grounded since May 5.”


The negative reporting has undermined passenger confidence while the investigators have not yet removed pilot error as a probable cause.







“On May 30, the flag carrier drew attention to the fact that the official investigation remains incomplete, and that drawing conclusions not only is premature but punishable by law if the speaker has access to the findings discovered by the investigation team. “Speculations…only give rise to the social tensions,” asserted Aeroflot in its statement, almost immediately after a leading expert with the International Aviation Committee (MAK), Vladimir Koshman, suggested that pilot error caused the accident. “Everything is clear now: the catastrophe took place because of the rough touchdown,” he said. Aeroflot described the quote as “an attempt to manipulate public opinion, which is not appropriate for the investigation team members.” With that, the carrier demonstrated its willingness to object to any accusations of insufficient crew training, notably that for SSJ100 pilots in the use of so-called direct law mode associated with type’s fly-by-wire flight control system.”


+ Careful, thorough investigations should not be expedited; so, the fact that the IAC has not yet come to a conclusion should not be criticized.

– Anyone who is an expert with the investigating team should not be making comments before the IAC issues its final report is a violation of international protocol and may be a criminal violation of Russian law.








Oddly enough the discussion of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 is filled with significant amount of disinformation and that lack of accuracy or even consistent facts occurred in a country of controlled journalism. The impact of the speculations and premature conclusions is well evidenced in the above articles

There are parallels between this distorted reporting of an accident with the journalistic dissembling on the Boeing 737 Max 8.

The NTSB gag rule is a source of much complaint by the press. These cases demonstrate the value of carefully assessing the mass of information before making any public statements, much less conclusions!!!






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