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1990s / 1994 Aeroflot Plane Crash Scandal
One of the strangest--and most preventable--air disasters in history was Aeroflot Flight #593. On March 23, 1994 a Russian International Airlines Airbus A310-300 crashed into a hillside of the Kuznetsk Alatau mountain range, Kemerovo Oblast. The jet was en route from Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport to Hong Kong's Kai Tak International Airport with 75 occupants aboard, of whom 63 were passengers. Most of the passengers were businessmen from Hong Kong and Taiwan who were seeking economic opportunities in Russia. There were no survivors. No evidence of technical malfunction was found, but cockpit voice and flight data recorders revealed the bizarre reason for the crash: The 12-year-old daughter (Yana) and 16-year-old son (Eldar) of pilot Yaroslav Kudrinsky were present on the flight deck. Eldar apparently had unknowingly disabled the autopilot's control of the aircraft's ailerons while seated at the controls! Yana was also recorded saying, "Daddy, can I turn this?" The aircraft had then rolled into a steep bank and near-vertical dive from which the pilots were unable to regain control in time to prevent the crash. Unlike Soviet planes with which the crew had been familiar, no audible alarm accompanied the autopilot's partial disconnection. Because of this they remained unaware of what was happening until it was too late. The plane slammed into the hillside at high speed before the crew could return the controls to autopilot. As a job perquisite, Aeroflot pilots, once per year, could take their family members on a flight free of charge and even have them present on the flight deck--but having them sit at the controls was absolutely against regulations.