Sknyliv air show disaster

The Sknyliv air show disaster occurred on 27 July 2002, when a Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 piloted by Volodymyr Toponar and co-piloted by Yuriy Yegorov crashed during an aerobatics presentation at Sknyliv airfield near Lviv, Ukraine. The accident killed 77 people and injured 543, 100 of whom were hospitalised. It is the deadliest air show accident in history.

Sknyliv air show disaster
SU27 - RIAT 2011 (8584951905).jpg
A Sukhoi Su-27 performing at an air show
Date27 July 2002 (2002-07-27)
SummaryPilot error
SiteSknyliv Airfield
near Lviv, Ukraine
Aircraft typeSukhoi Su-27
OperatorUkrainian Air Force
(Ukrainian Falcons)
Crew2 – Volodymyr Toponar and co-pilot Yuriy Yegorov (ejected to safety)
Fatalities77 (on ground)
Injuries543 (on ground)
2 (in aircraft)
The damaged IL-76MD


More than 10,000 spectators attended the Saturday air show, staged to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Ukrainian Air Force's 14th Air Corps.[1][2] The Su-27 aircraft was flown by two experienced pilots; it entered a rolling maneuver at 12:52 p.m. with a downward trajectory at low altitude. It rolled upright once more and was still descending rapidly when the left wing dropped shortly before it hit the ground, at which point the crew initiated ejection. The aircraft flattened out initially, skidding over the ground towards stationary aircraft and striking a glancing blow against the nose of an Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft before beginning to explode and cartwheel into the crowd of spectators.[page needed]

Both pilots survived with minor injuries, while 77 spectators were killed, including 28 children[3] (though initial reports by the Emergency Situations Ministry put the number of dead at 83, including 23 children).[4] Another 100 were hospitalized for head injuries, burns, and bone fractures.[1][5] Other injuries were less severe and did not require hospitalization; a total of 543 people were injured during the accident.[6]

Following the disaster, the pilots stated that the flight map which they had received differed from the actual layout. On the cockpit voice recorder, one pilot asks, "And where are our spectators?"[7] Others have suggested that the pilots were slow to react to automated warnings issued by the flight computer.[7]


Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma publicly blamed the military for the disaster and dismissed head of the air force, General Viktor Strelnykov.[8] Defense minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko sent in his resignation, but Kuchma rejected it.[9]

On 24 June 2005, a military court sentenced pilot Volodymyr Toponar and co-pilot Yuriy Yegorov to 14 and 8 years in prison, respectively. The court found the two pilots and three other military officials guilty of failing to follow orders, negligence, and violating flight rules. Two of the three officials were sentenced to up to six years in prison, and the last official received up to four years. In addition, Toponar was ordered to pay 7.2 million Ukrainian hryvnia (US$1.42 million; 1.18 million) in compensation to the families, and Yegorov 2.5 million hryvnia. The crew's main flight trainer was acquitted for lack of evidence.[10][11] After the verdict was announced, Toponar said that he planned to appeal, insisting that the crash was due to technical problems and a faulty flight plan. Yegorov was released in 2008 after President Yushchenko issued a decree reducing his sentence to three and a half years.[12]

The pilots were assigned the majority of the blame, which included accusations of attempting maneuvers with which they were not experienced. Toponar had requested an additional training flight at the airfield where the display was to be performed; this request was denied.[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Stepanenko, Svetlana (August 21, 2002). "Deadly Performance. Ukrainian Militarys Prestige Crashes on Lvov Airfield". The Current Digest of the Russian Press. 54 (30): 16. Retrieved 2011-03-24. Debris from the exploding SU-27 sprayed across the field for a distance of about 100 meters. As of yesterday, 83 people (19 of them children) were dead, and more than 100 were taken to the hospital with head injuries, burns and fractures.
  2. ^ "EVXpress – Deadly Performance. Ukrainian Militarys Prestige Crashes on Lvov Airfield – The Current Digest of the Russian Press, 2002, No. 30, Vol. 54". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  3. ^ Kozyrieva, Tetiana (8 September 2009). "Two Sknyliv boys seven years later". The Day. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  4. ^ Horodetska, Olena (30 July 2002). "Pilots Blamed for World's Worst Air Show Disaster". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 23 May 2015 – via Questia Online Library.
  5. ^ "Pilots blamed for Ukraine air disaster". BBC News. 29 July 2002.
  6. ^ Kirillov, Roman (July 27, 2005). "Pilots Convicted for Disaster During Air Show". The Current Digest of the Russian Press. 56 (26): 9–10. Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved 2011-03-24. While performing an aerobatic maneuver, an SU-27 jet crashed into a crowd of spectators, leaving 77 people dead and another 543 injured. The commander of the plane's crew, Vladimir Toponar, was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison, and copilot Yury Yegorov got eight years
  7. ^ a b "EVXpress – Ukrainian Pilots Failed to Obey Female Voice – The Current Digest of the Russian Press, 2002, No. 31, Vol. 54". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Ukraine crash report blames pilots". BBC News. 7 August 2002.
  10. ^ CNN news report, 24 June 2005 (after the verdict)
  11. ^ Aviation Web news report, 29 June 2005 (after the verdict)
  12. ^ "Lviv area residents remember Sknyliv air show disaster of 2002" (PDF). 19 August 2012.
  13. ^ People's Daily news report, 8 August 2002 (12 days after the accident)

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 49°49′N 23°57′E / 49.817°N 23.950°E / 49.817; 23.950