Bratislava, July 13 (TASR) – The main reason behind last year’s MiG-29 jet fighter crash was a lack of fuel and subsequent decision by the pilot to eject, with the investigative committee establishing a total of 13 contributing factors that led to the incident, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad (OLaNO) announced at a press conference on Monday.
Nad emphasised that it wasn’t the technical state of the aircraft nor the display of any incompetence on part of the pilot that caused the crash.
The accident occured during a training flight. On September 28, 2019, two MiG-29 jets took off from the Sliac Airport, both operated by seasoned pilots. Due to the rapid deterioration in weather conditions, particularly the rise of fog, the pilots were instructed to return back to the airport. One jet managed to land on the second attempt, but the pilot of the other jet couldn’t follow suit because “he wasn’t in visual contact with the ground” and asked for a landing clearance in Bratislava, instead.
On the flight to Bratislava the pilot announced that his fuel was running critically low and voiced a concern that he might not make it to the capital city. A minute later, the jet signalled a critical shortage of fuel and the pilot proposed to eject himself. Consultations subsequently took place on the best site to eject with an eye towards minimizing loss of life and property damage. “The ejection went without any shortcomings or problems,” said Nad, detailing that the aircraft crashed near the village of Nove Sady (Nitra region).
The aircraft damage was quantified at €38 million, set to be paid by the state. Damage at the crash site didn’t exceed €600.
Minister Nad praised the pilot’s decision to eject. He pointed out that the jet, inbound for the backup airport, was loaded with armaments and lives could have been put in danger if the pilot chose to “risk it” and fly all the way to Bratislava.
The pilot of the first jet was discharged from the Armed Forces at his own request, whereas the pilot of the crashed aircraft has stayed in service. A set of 22 measures have been approved to prevent similar accidents from reoccuring in the future.