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Ukraine Report Shows Pilots to Blame for Air Show Disaster - 2002-08-07


The head of a Ukraine government commission says the pilots of a fighter plane were to blame for a crash at an air show that killed 85 people. The crash was the world's deadliest air show disaster.

The investigator looking into the cause of the crash, Yevhen Marchuk, said the pilots of the Sukhoi fighter plane failed to follow the flight plan during the air show.

Mr. Marchuk also said the organization of the air show and a lack of preventative measures added to the tragic incident.

The SU-27 fighter plane crashed into a crowd of spectators during an air show July 27 in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. Eight-five people were killed and scores of people were injured. Many of them are still in the hospital.

The two pilots were performing difficult maneuvers when they lost control of the airplane. Both pilots ejected safely.

Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma immediately ordered Mr. Marchuk to investigate the incident. The Ukrainian president also dismissed a number of high-ranking military officials.

Mr. Marchuk announced the results of this investigation at a news conference Wednesday. He emphasized that this is not a final report. He said he will continue to look into the causes of the accident.

Many aviation experts questioned why the pilots were performing so close to the spectators. In many international air shows, pilots are required to keep a certain distance between their planes and the people on the ground, so that if the plane crashes the spectators will not be injured.

The airplane crash was a harsh blow for the country's military, which has suffered in the post-Soviet years. Many of the military pilots do not have enough flight time because there is not enough money to fuel or maintain the planes.

The Ukraine air disaster is being described as the world's deadliest air show. In 1988, 70 people died when three Italian jets slammed into each other at an air show at the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany.

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