Russian air transport regulators have stated that the Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 involved in the landing accident at Moscow Sheremetyevo had suffered a lightning strike at 6,900ft.
In a transmission the federal air transport authority Rosaviatsia says the aircraft experienced a “discharge of atmospheric electricity” at 2,100m (6,900ft) after departing Sheremetyevo for Murmansk at 18:02 on 5 May.
Meteorological data from the airport at the time indicated cumulonimbus cloud – which is associated with thunderstorm activity – at 6,000ft.
The aircraft’s radio communications system and other equipment subsequently failed and the captain opted to return to the airport, setting the squawk code to 7600 in line with signalling loss of communication.
It indicates that the jet landed hard on runway 24L and then bounced several times, with the fire erupting at the fourth contact with the runway.
The Superjet deviated from the runway to the left, coming to rest between the A2 and A3 taxiways, which are situated opposite Terminal D, where the aft fuselage was consumed by the blaze.
Preliminary examination has revealed that the flight-data recorder was “seriously damaged” as a result of “intense” temperatures, says the Interstate Aviation Committee.
The cockpit-voice recorder is in “satisfactory condition”, it adds.
Investigators from the committee’s technical facilities are conducting work to transfer and decode the information from the flight. The committee expects to issue an initial report within 30 days.
Russia’s federal Investigative Committee says that all wreckage and parts from the aircraft have been removed from the accident site to a hangar for further research.
Information from the flight recorders will be compared with testimony from the survivors as well as eyewitnesses to the accident, it says, to establish a “complete and objective picture” of the circumstances.