Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky AN26 near Palana on Jul 6th 2021, missing aircraft impacted edge of coast

Last Update: April 3, 2024 / 17:34:26 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jul 6, 2021


Flight number

Palana, Russia

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Antonov An-26

ICAO Type Designator

A Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka Aviation Antonov AN-26, registration RA-26085 performing flight PTK-251 from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Palana (Russia) with 22 passengers and 6 crew, was on approach to Palana in foggy and cloudy conditions when contact with the aircraft was lost. The aircraft has not landed at any airport. The aircraft was later found collided with the top of the coastal slope about 3.8km (2.1nm) from the airport at position N59.1078 E159.8478, there are no signs of survivors.

A search for the aircraft is underway, two helicopter and a number of search aircraft have been dispatched to check the route of the aircraft. Both approach routes to Palana over land and over the sea are being checked. A number of ships have been dispatched to a location at the sea to investigate a location where the aircraft might have come down, emergency services report. A weak ELT signal has been discovered.

On Jul 7th 2021 Kamchatka's Emergency Ministry reported rescue and recovery forces, 51 people strong, have reached the wreckage at the foot of the cliff and have so far recovered 9 bodies and identified one of the recovered bodies. The recovery operation is difficult with winds around 18m/s (about 35 knots), waves of 1.5 meters, a visual survey of the area is underway. If weather improves a helicopter will join the efforts.

On Jul 9th 2021 emergency services reported they were able to recover one of the blackboxes, that will be sent to Moscow for decoding. Several human remains were also recovered, the search for the bodies as well as the second black box are still underway. Rescuers have in the meantime reached the top of the cliff.

On Jul 10th 2021 medical services reported that human remains of all 28 victims have been recovered and are being sent for further examination.

Kamchatka's regional government reported contact with the aircraft was lost just when the aircraft was maneouvering to begin the final approach about 9km (5nm) before the airport at about 15:00L (03:00Z). The aircraft had departed Petropavlovsk at 12:57L (00:57Z) and was estimated to land at 15:05L (03:05Z). The aircraft carried 22 passengers and 6 crew. The government also published a list of the passenger names.

Kamchatka's government confirmed the wreckage has been located, parts of the aircraft were found in the water some dozen meters below the coastal edge where the aircraft impacted, some parts were found on the land.

On Jul 7th 2021 Kamchatka's regional government reported, the aircraft departed from Petropavlovsk at 12:57L, was handed off to ATC control of Palana at 14:39L, received approach clearance by Palana at 14:50L (which turned out to be the last communication from the aircraft), at 15:07L it was registered that the aircraft had not contacted ATC again. The aircraft was located destroyed at 21:06L.

On Jul 7th 2021 Kamchatka's regional government also announced that the captain of the flight (35) had been employed with the airline since 2013, had accumulated more than 3300 flying hours, thereof 750 hours as captain. The first officer (28) flew for the airline for more than a year and accumulated 1253 total hours and 1091 hours on type, the flight engineer (65) was the most experienced of the crew and an "old-timer of the enterprise" and had accumulated 9300 hours total, 6900 hours on type. The navigator (49) worked for the airline since 2018 after having served in state aviation for 11 years, he accumulated 2090 hours total and 1263 hours on type. This crew team had flown together for a long time. The aircraft had been properly certified airworthy and had passed the last inspection in the week before the crash, engineers of the manufacturer had participated in that inspection. The airline stated that the AN-26 have a service life of up to 35 years, their aircraft had been sent to the manufacturer where the airframe undergoes a complete overhaul including engines for an extension of the service life. Of their 5 AN-26s 4 had been overhauled already, the fifth was scheduled to be sent to the manufacturer this week and is currently not flying.

Rosaviatsia reported a search helicopter found the wreckage at position N59.1078 E159.8478. The engines were on top of the cliff, the rest of the aircraft down in the sea at the foot of the cliff. No survivors were seen.

On Jul 7th 2021 the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) announced they have opened an investigation into the crash. A commission has been formed and already started their work.

On Jul 12th 2021 Rostransnador (Russia's Transport Ministry) reported the aircraft performed an NDB approach to runway 29 in poor weather conditions. The aircraft had overflown the NDB, followed the NDB procedure outbound and after turning in collided with the steep rocky shore at about 3.6km from the aerodrome. The aircraft was found completely destroyed with all occupants killed. At the time of the accident the following weather conditions were observed at the Palana Aerodrome: Winds from 250 degrees at 7m/s (13 knots), visibility 10km however fog in the vicinity of the aerodrome, cloud ceiling 300m (1000 feet), overcast cloud at 720m (2400 feet), temperature 10 degrees C, dew point 8 degrees C, QNH 1011 hPa, QFE 1009 hPa, runway was dry and clean. The aircraft commander had 3,300+ hours experience, the first officer 1,100+ hours. The commander was certified to fly down to 60x800 meters.

On Jul 17th 2021 Rosaviatsia reported after first readout of the black boxes, the aircraft had reached the NDB crossing the NDB at 800 meters of altitude and turned outbound for the NDB procedure with the intention to visually circle for runway 29 following the NDB procedure. The controller told the crew they were on a bearing of 340 degrees (rather than the 289 bearing instructed by the NDB procedure), the crew acknowledged and reported they were descending to 600 meters, but did not report reaching 600 meters and did not ask for further descent. The aircraft performed base and final turns, the FDR did not record release of landing gear or flaps. The aircraft arrived at a heading of 140 degrees about 12km from the aerodrome after rolling out of the final turn and headed directly towards the aerodrome. About one minute prior to collision with the terrain the last communication between aircraft and controller took place, the controller informed them they were on a bearing of 320 degrees about 9km from the aerodrome. The terrain at the point of impact is about 260 meters high covered with trees (tree height 10m). Rosaviatsia recommended amongst others to review the crash of RA-28715 on Sep 12th 2012 to assess the implementation of recommendations of flight safety then.

On Aug 17th 2021 the MAK released their preliminary report in Russian only reporting the crew had delayed the flight by around 90 minutes due to weather conditions at Palana, then the aircraft departed. The MAK basically re-iterated the information already released earlier adding, that no command or action to extend flaps or gear was recorded, and there was no activity on the flight controls in the 3 seconds prior to impact. The MAK released FDR graphs as well as a detail flight trajectory. Medical studies have not yet been completed and will be only included with the final report. Fuel samples were taken, the analysis will be included with the final report. Maintenance actions prior to the flight had replaced both instantanious vertical speed indicators following disagreeing indication (e.g. 2.8 m/s climb at left hand side, 2.0m/s climb at the right hand side).

No weather data are available for Palana.

Rosaviatsia reported the mountains around Palana were covered in clouds with broken cloud ceiling at 300 meters/1000 feet MSL and overcast cloud at 720 meters/2400 feet MSL.

A Russian pilot provided METARs for Palana about 6.5 hours after the crash:
METAR UHPL 061000Z 19009MPS 9999 OVC040 15/09 Q1012 R11 / 010060 R29 / 010060 RMK QFE758 / 1010 =
METAR UHPL 060930Z 19007MPS 9999 OVC027 15/09 Q1012 R11 / 010060 R29 / 010060 RMHQ1012 R11 / 010060 R29 / 010060 RMH1026 OFE75 / 09 Q1012 R11 / 010060 R29 / 010060 RMK QFE758 / 1010 =
(Editorial remark: METARs of Petropavlovsk suggest the atmosperic pressure remained stable at QNH 1012hpa with QFE 1010hpa (758mm Hg which converts to 29.84 inches Hg) around Kamchatka, discussions in Russian Pilot Fora based on the METARs above consider a confusion of QNH 1012 and QFE 758 - instead of QFE 1010 - due to the transition from QFE to QNH in Russian Airspace, which would be almost 8000 feet/2400 meters difference and thus appears unlikely as a factor.)

According to NOTAM 2164/21 (see below) all RNAV and RNP instrument approach procedures for Palana were suspended from Apr 22nd 2021 to Jul 22nd 2021.

The coast at the extended runway center line of Palana's runway 11 raises about 110 meters above the sea and to about 120 meters above sea level in the area of the final position the aircraft was found at.

In 2012 another Antonov had crashed on approach to Palana, see Crash: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky AN28 near Palana on Sep 12th 2012, missing aircraft impacted a slope.

The Interstate Aviation Committee (aka MAK) released their final report (Editorial note: to serve the purpose of global prevention of the repeat of causes leading to an occurrence an additional timely release of all occurrence reports in the only world spanning aviation language English would be necessary, a Russian only release does not achieve this purpose as set by ICAO annex 13 and just forces many aviators to waste much more time and effort each in trying to understand the circumstances leading to the occurrence. Aviators operating internationally are required to read/speak English besides their local language, investigators need to be able to read/write/speak English to communicate with their counterparts all around the globe).

The report concludes:

The cause of the crash of the An-26B-100 RA-26085 aircraft was a violation by the crew established instrument approach procedure at Palana airfield, resulting in performing a flight with a significant deviation from the established route and descending significantly below the established minimum altitude (MDH) in weather conditions excluding stable visual contact with ground landmarks, which led to collision of an aircraft with a coastal rock in controlled flight, its destruction and death crew and passengers.

Contributing factors:

- failure by the crew to perform an aborted approach to land with established safe altitude (MSA) if information is available bearing, indicating a significant deviation of the aircraft from established approach pattern;

- lack of actions in the operating technology of the Palana airfield controller availability of bearing information indicating significant deviation of the aircraft from the established approach pattern, as well as passivity dispatcher if such information is available;

- lack of alarm from the ground proximity warning system. The reason for the lack of alarm could not be determined;

- overestimation of barometric altimeter readings at the final stage of flight due to the specific flow of air around a steep coastline with the emergence of a zone of low pressure and overestimation variometer readings, the cause of which cannot be determined possible.
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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jul 6, 2021


Flight number

Palana, Russia

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Antonov An-26

ICAO Type Designator

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