I just heard about the unfortunate crash of a Russian Sukhoi Superjet SSJ-100-95 into Mount Salak (Java) with about 44 people on board for a demonstration flight.
Having flown several times in that exact area, I can say that VFR flight there is very demanding:
- the weather was typical: partly cloudy at that time, likely broken to overcast at 2000′ and 1 mile visibility (Marginal VFR conditions down to IMC, with clouds to the ground in the hills.) With 70% humidity and a small temperature/dewpoint (DP) spread, it’s cloudy 95% of the year over Jakarta. Residents also burn their trash, causing continuous smoke haze.
- Indonesia is a chain of volcanoes, which means “stratogranite” to pilots. There’s several mountains to the south of Jakarta, including Mount Salak. Outclimbing a mountain with 1 mile warning may not be possible and can result in an aerodynamic stall, which some witnesses reported (“the airplane flew over my house and fell out of the sky to one side.”)
- there are some restricted areas near Jakarta, including the National Monument (Monas) and their version of the Pentagon, which can distract pilots momentarily – “We’re not over the Pentagon, are we?” 😐
Mt. Salak on a rare clear day.
Recommendation: a local instructor pilot should be in the airplane cockpit for all demo flights. While local pilots can successfully do contact MVFR flying, visiting pilots can get into trouble.
Scheduled airline routes are quite safe to and from Jakarta, but I doubt if these passengers had any idea of the risk they were assuming in a demo flight.
Congrats to the Indonesian government for organizing at least 3 search parties and quickly finding the crash site.
Indonesia’s Sky Aviation lost many employees, so we’ll see how that affects their company. Sukhoi also lost several employees.
msnbc: Debris spotted in search for Russian jet missing in Indonesia
Russia opens criminal case on Sukhoi accident
wikipedia: Mount Salak Sukhoi Superjet 100 crash
Indonesia finds black box part of crashed Russia jet
Pilot who crashed at Mt. Salak ‘one of the best in Russia’
Indonesia Issues Safety Recommendations on Sukhoi Jet