“On the evening of September 25, AN-26 military aircraft crashed near Chuhuyiv, Kharkiv region, approximately two kilometers from the military airfield,” informs Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
There were 27 people on the board, including seven crew members and 20 cadets of the Ivan Kozhedub National Air Force University. Twenty-five people were killed on the spot, one cadet died later in hospital. Only one person survived.
The plane performed a training flight, it crashed heading in for a landing. The fire broke out at the site and was later extinguished.
According to BBC with reference to Reuters news agency, “an eyewitness saw a man in flames running from the wreckage. ‘Another car stopped behind us. We took a fire extinguisher and ran with another driver to help him,’ he said.”
Vyacheslav Zolochevsky, the only survivor, is being treated in the Kharkiv military hospital.
Crash investigators are reportedly considering four possible causes – a technical malfunction of the aircraft, improper performance by either the flight crew or ground control, and poor maintenance.
Defense Minister Andriy Taran highlights that it was all going as planned: the plane performed training flights to teach cadets. A pilot- instructor flew a plane, cadets took turns sitting in the right seat next to him to gain piloting skills and control of the aircraft. The plane likely caught the ground with its wing and burst into flames.
“It’s a terrible tragedy, we will find out the reasons. The final conclusions will be made after deciphering the flight recorders,” the minister summed up.
The National Air Force University posted the casualty list of deceased on its Facebook page.
The Ukrainian president declared September 26 as a national day of mourning due to the crash of the AN-26 military aircraft.
Text: Natalia Ivanova
Photo: Kharkiv Regional State Administration