Russian investigators have disclosed that the Antonov An-2 which crashed at an air show at Balashikha, killing both pilots, should not have been flying as its airworthiness certificate had expired nearly five years earlier.
Its left wing struck the ground, after the An-2 (RA-35171) descended and banked steeply at low altitude. The wing was torn off and the aircraft rolled inverted before igniting.
While federal air transport regulator Rosaviatsia says the inquiry is continuing, it has sharply criticised the organisers of the 2 September flight, which took place at a show to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the An-2.
The crashed aircraft "was not supposed to [fly] at all", it says, because the validity of its airworthiness certificate had expired in November 2012.
Although both crew held pilot licences, there is no evidence of official authorisation to fly the An-2, states Rosaviatsia, and the aircraft type is "not intended" to engage in the aerobatics undertaken during the flight.
Rosaviatsia accuses the flight's organisers of having a "totally irresponsible attitude", stressing that the crash occurred just in front of the spectator line, risking fatal injuries to dozens of attendees.
The authority is citing the accident as an example of operational violations in general aviation, adding that "bravado" which "borders on the criminal" is contributing to accidents.
It says a recent landing accident – involving a TR-301, which is based on the An-2 – followed an unauthorised flight in the Sverdlovsk region. The pilot, who refused medical assistance and screening for psychoactive substances, was in a "visible altered state of consciousness", adds the regulator.
Rosaviatsia says 17 general aviation accidents have occurred this year, eight of which have resulted in 17 fatalities. Eight aircraft, it adds, did not have an airworthiness certificate.
It says several accidents resulted from crew actions "completely disregarded" the rules of flights and aviation legislative requirements – as well as the sense of self-preservation.
"In search of thrills, such pilots go beyond the limits of what is permitted," adds the authority. "Which invariably leads to the same results – catastrophic consequences and irreversible damage to technology and human life."