The flight of a 15 year old boy that ended in tragedy

By: James Spencer-Boyce, Student Voices Writer | @spennabee

The flight of a 15 year old boy that ended in tragedy, that everyone seemed to forget, but, remains as a horrible reminder that arrogance can have terrible consequences.

Twenty-two years ago, Yaroslav Kudrinsky – a Russian relief pilot on a Moscow–Hong Kong passenger service operated by Aeroflot, fatally and recklessly allowed both of his two children access to the flight deck of a then, state of the art Airbus A310-300. Kudrinsky, who allowed his daughter Yana, and then his son, Eldar, to control the plane for little more than three and a half minutes.  This outrageous and gross act of misconduct resulted catastrophically and tragically in a crash over the mountainous terrain of Siberia, and the death of all 63 passengers and 12 cabin crew – including the Kudrinsky family. There had been no warning, no emergency call from the pilot. The plane, quite simply, had disappeared without trace. 

 At the time of the initial investigation, the details of the crash and the causes were puzzlingly unknown. The site offered little evidence and only baffling suggestions – only a stewardess found wearing a crudely worn oxygen mask, unbroken champagne bottles, and, most mystifyingly – the bodies of two children thrown into the cockpit.

The flight data recorder on board of the Airbus recalls both engines were running at the time of the crash, and therefore engine failure can be ruled out. And with the data on board of the A330-300s Black box, there is a full manuscript of the flight decks conversation, and, when analysed, the forthcoming was disturbing. “Daddy can I turn the plane to the left?” asks Eldar. “Yes”, first officer Kudrinsky replies. “But if you turn it to left, what way will it go?” he joked. His son, proud, replied with “left”.

Since the 1970s, it was not unusual for passengers to be invited into the cockpit of a plane – although this had been made extremely rare, if not impossible since 9/11. Nowadays, cockpit doors are generally locked throughout a flight. Although instances have not been all that abnormal of a passenger entering the flight deck, it is and was, unprecedented for anyone but the captain to have control of a plane.

Investigators were simply stunned of what they heard on the voice recording manuscript. It became horribly apparent the two unidentifiable youngsters whose bodies were found in the cockpit, were not thrown into the flight deck on impact, they were the kids of Yaroslav Kudrinsky. And, to make matters abhorrently worse, they were flying the plane. Investigators were speechless, how had three tremendously experienced pilots – whose combined flight hours topped 60,000 hours, had allowed children to fly a commercial airliner?

It is quite apparent that Kudrinsky was very proud of what he is doing. He invited his kids into the cockpit. And although, now, it sounds obvious that this was a violation of Aviation ruling, in 1994 it was not. In fact, it was believed to be the norm for Pilots to show off in front of guests to the flight desk.

Aeroflot, the Russian airline, who were in complete shock, were desperate to cover up the catastrophic fiasco, by looking for flaws in the western-build, airbus navigation system. Inevitably, Russia, did exactly that. This was, after all, the first foreign built plane used by any Russian airline. And, to add fuel to the cover up, despite the fact the children were in the cockpit at the time, auto pilot was active. What went so terribly wrong? The answer is profound. Two and half minutes before the crash, the autopilot was disabled, the cause, and unknown.

Autopilot is a computer control that manages a planes speed, altitude and heading. Autopilot is dictated by three main parts of the plane. The rudders, the Elevators and Ailerons. On flight 593, the autopilot had disconnected from the ailerons – the part of the plane that causes the aircraft to bank and lean. But how, did the autopilot become disengaged? The hope was, for Areoflot, that this was a fault with the aircraft. And, the only way to test this theory, was to head towards Toulouse, France, and Airbus industries HQ.

Airbus, admittedly, did conclude that there were some automated issues with autopilot- but not because of mechanical issues, but because the pilot was not fully aware of on board autopilot controls. . However, since then, there have tightened regulations and information that pilots must adhere and know that have undoubtedly saved the lives of many, and, although, this will never be a consolation to the families of the 75 on board that Aeroflot flight.

The arrogance of Mr Kudrinsky was unquestionable, as was his judgement to allow his two children to enter the flight deck. He was responsible for the crash and the death of 75 passengers. But, in light of the tragedy, we can only hope there is never to be a repeat of such events.
The flight of a 15 year old boy that ended in tragedy The flight of a 15 year old boy that ended in tragedy Reviewed by Student Voices on 20:11 Rating: 5

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