Sunday 19 May 2024

Remembering Aeroflot Flight 6709

Aeroflot Flight 6709, a Tupolev Tu-154B, was en route from Baku (GYD/UBBB) to Leningrad-Pulkovo Airport (LED/ULLI) on the 19th of May 1978 when fuel starvation disrupted the fuel supply to its three Kuznetsov NK-8 engines, leading to engine failure. This problem may have stemmed from the aircraft's design flaws.

The flight departed from Bina International Airport at 10:30 a.m. MSK, heading for Pulkovo Airport in Leningrad, covering a distance of 2,550 kilometers (1,580 miles). About two hours into the flight, the engines lost power. It is speculated that the flight engineer might have accidentally shut off the fuel pump to the aircraft's sump tank, although the veracity of this claim is debated. The Tu-154B's design was such that a single fuel pump failure could halt all three engines. After the power loss, the aircraft's AC generators ceased functioning, causing sudden pitch and roll movements, alerting the pilots to the issue.

Attempts to restart the engines during the descent were partially successful but failed to restore enough power to the generators to reactivate the fuel pump. Attempts to use the auxiliary power unit (APU) to power the fuel pump were unsuccessful, as its operation was intentionally disabled at altitudes over 3,000 meters (9,800 feet).

The aircraft made an emergency landing in a potato and barley field 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) southeast of Maksatikha at 1:32 p.m. The plane bounced on impact and broke into three sections after colliding with trees. Shortly after coming to a halt, the fuselage ignited, leading to a fire that destroyed the aircraft. The accident resulted in four deaths and 27 injuries.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: Aeroflot
Code: SU/AFL
Aircraft: Tupolev Tu-154B
Registration: CCCP-85169
Serial Number: 76A169
Engines: 3 x Kuznetsov NK-8-2U
First Flew: 1976
Age: 2 Years Old

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