By Olivia Rondonuwu
MOUNT SALAK, Indonesia May 10 A rescue team
found bodies but no survivors on Thursday in the wreckage of a
Russian passenger jet that crashed into a volcano in Indonesia
during an exhibition flight with 45 people on board.
The Superjet 100 aircraft went missing on Wednesday about 40
miles (60 km) south of Jakarta.
Among the victims were Indonesian reporters and businessmen,
eight Russians including embassy officials, pilots and
technicians, two Italians, a French citizen and an American, the
head of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk, said.
"We haven't found survivors," a spokesman for the search and
rescue team, Gagah Prakoso, told Indonesia's Metro TV.
Radio contact with the aircraft was lost in the middle of
Wednesday's promotional sales flight after it dropped to 6,000
ft (1,800 m) near Indonesia's dormant Mount Salak volcano.
A helicopter spotted debris on the side of the 7,254-ft
(2,200-m) peak, sending rescue teams trekking across steep and
heavily forested terrain to reach the site.
An aerial picture appeared to show that the plane had hit
the top of a wall of rock. Small pieces of white debris could be
seen scattered down an exposed stretch of cliff. The cause of
the tragedy is not known.
Sukhoi, which had hoped to sell 42 of the planes to
Indonesia, is part of the state-owned United Aircraft
Corporation, an umbrella corporation Russian leader
Vladimir Putin created in 2006 to reorganise and revive the
country's aircraft industry.
Shares in the state-owned company fell by as much as 7
percent on Thursday as markets reopened in Moscow after a
three-day holiday, before recovering to stand down 2 percent.
Putin ordered Russian representatives to take part in the
investigation into the crash.
AIRCRAFT FOR EXPORT
Moscow will hope the crash of the flagship aircraft will not
reduce confidence in its civilian aircraft industry.
"Experts are saying that the plane has been working
impeccably well and that possibly it was human error," Deputy
Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters while travelling
with Putin in Nizhny Tagil in Russia's Ural mountains.
He called the superjet a "reliable, competitive machine".
Sukhoi's chief civil test pilot Alexander Yablontsev and his
co-pilot Alexander Kochetkov had been flying the plane, said a
statement on the website Superjet International, the Italian-led
venture responsible for marketing the plane to the West.
Yablontsev had accumulated 10,000 flight hours and commanded
the Superjet on its maiden flight in 2008.
The aircraft crashed on the second of two demonstration
flights from Halim Perdanakusuma airport, east of Jakarta.
Sukhoi, which has orders for 170 planes worldwide, plans to
produce up to 1,000 Superjets, primarily for foreign markets.
Indonesia's Sky Aviation, which signed a commitment last
August to buy 12 Sukhoi Superjet 100s, said it will not move
ahead with the Sukhoi purchase before the results of the probe.
"Some of our staff were in the plane. We are waiting for the
investigation by the authorities, whether it's human error or
plane issues," said Sutito Zainudin, general manager marketing
of PT Sky Aviation.
Built in a converted corner of a Sukhoi fighter factory in
Siberia, the Superjet was unveiled in 2007 as part of a drive to
restore pride in Russia's aviation industry, but it ran into a
series of development delays.
It was developed with Western design advice and technology
from companies including Italy's Finmeccanica, as well
as avionics and engine equipment from French aerospace firms
Thales and Safran.
The Superjet 100, with a capacity of 68-103 passengers, was
midway through a 15,500-km (9,630-mile) six-nation sales tour.
It is being marketed internationally in partnership with
Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia Aeronautica.