Terminated Flight: Sknyliv air show
Fourteen years have passed since the largest catastrophe in the history of air shows happened
The Sknyliv air show disaster occurred on 27 July 2002, when a Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 of the Ukrainian Falcons crashed during an aerobatics presentation at Sknyliv airfield near Lviv (Western Ukraine). Following the disaster, the pilots stated that the flight map they had received differed from the actual layout. The accident killed 77 and injured 543 people. Ten people suffered permanent disabilities as a result of the accident. More than 10,000 spectators gathered to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Ukrainian Air Force's 14th Air Corps.
Both pilots were ejected after contact with the ground and suffered minor injuries.
On the day of the tragedy, the then Defense Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko submitted his resignation, but President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma did not sign it. But the Chief of the Air Force of Ukraine Viktor Strelnikov was fired.
Initially, there have been several versions of the causes of the accident: a technical malfunction of the aircraft, pilot error, and the error in the flight planning, organization and placement of spectators at the airfield. Press Center of the General Prosecutor's Office made a statement in which the causes of the tragedy have been called a bad organization, preparation and holding of the air show.
Pilots were charged with deviation from the flight job, lack of professionalism, and negligence. They did not recognize their guilt and pointed to the poor organization of the show, in particular, that their flight maps differed significantly from the real area of the show. They also noted that they had to perform maneuvers on the plane, which they have not practiced before.
10 people were brought to justice. Individuals involved in the air show, and pilots have been found guilty of an accident due to negligence and non-compliance of the flight plan. Major General Anatoly Tretyakov, who served as commander of the 14th Corps aviation, was sentenced to six years in prison. The military court sentenced pilot Volodymyr Toponar and co-pilot Yuriy Yegorov to 14 and 8 years in prison, respectively. In addition, Toponar was ordered to pay 7.2 million hryvnia ($1.42 million) in compensation to the families, and Yegorov another 2.5 million hryvnia. The crew's main flight trainer was acquitted for lack of evidence.
November 7, 2007, President Viktor Yushchenko has pardoned some of the accused in this case: in particular Anatoly Tretyakov, and reduced the sentence Yury Yegorov from eight to three years.
Families of the victims were paid compensation in the amount of 100 thousand to 10 thousand hryvnia. The European Court of Human Rights considered 33 cases of compensation to the victims, but the decisions for any of them are not yet accepted.
Lviv residents, relatives of the victims, priests, and representatives of public and political organizations have gathered to join a memorial liturgy.
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