Belarusian government explained that two pilots died while trying to direct a damaged Yakovlev Yak-130 jet trainer away from inhabited areas.
The crash happened on May 19, 2021, near the city of Baranovichi, in Belarus. Initially, it was announced that both pilots ejected, but later the information got disproved.
According to Belarusian media, a recording of a special meeting with the country’s president Alexander Lukashenko was leaked. In the video, Lukashenko explains the cause of the crash.
“All the control systems of Yak-130 were malfunctioning. It has four control systems, and the fifth, reserve one. All of them malfunctioned within a minute. Only the fifth one was barely working. It has allowed to direct the aircraft away,” Lukashenko is quoted by Tass.
According to Lukashenko, the black box was already retrieved and deciphered. The data showed that both pilots stayed in the aircraft till the last moment and guided it into an empty plot of land between two houses. Upon impact, one of the ejection seats activated, which led many to believe that pilots tried to eject.
“They were fighting until the end. They understood that there is no time and that it is going to be a disaster if the aircraft strikes an inhabited area. Two heroic people have died,” Lukashenko said.
According to Igor Golub, the commander of the Air Force and Air Defence Forces of the Republic of Belarus, the control was lost during a routine flight over an air base.
“Flight control repeated more than ten times: “Eject! Eject! Eject!” But the aircraft became uncontrollable and started straying left into the city,” Golub said. “It took incredible efforts to stabilize the aircraft and direct it into that only spot of land between houses. By that time the altitude was too low and there was no time to eject.”
The Yakovlev Yak-130 is an advanced subsonic trainer designed in the 1990s and adopted by Russian, Belarusian, Syrian, and a number of other air forces. Belarus received 12 of the aircraft between 2015 and 2019.
Malfunctioning control system was blamed for several prior crashes of the Yak-130, including a crash of the prototype in 2006.