Accidental Ejection Seats Activation During Takeoff Cause Fatal Tu-22M3 Bomber Crash

Accidental Ejection Seats Activation During Takeoff Cause Fatal Tu-22M3 Bomber Crash
Tu-22M3 bomber © Russian Defense Ministry’s press service

As we have reported earlier, on Mar. 23, 2021, Russian Air Force Tu-22 Backfire Bomber Crashes In Kaluga Region Killing Three Crew Onboard. No one else on the ground was injured.

Now according to the information released by the Russian Defense Ministry, for reasons yet to be determined, the crew were ejected during the preflight operations. Among the crew members who died in the incident, there was also the regiment commander, Colonel Vadim Beloslyudtsev, who was a pilot-instructor on the planned flight.

Three of them received fatal injuries, as their parachutes did not deploy in time:

“The altitude was too low for the parachutes to work, and three crew members have received fatal injuries when they landed,” the Russian MOD said in a statement.

Although not mentioned in the official Russia MOD release, according to a source in the medical community of the region who talked to TASS News Agency, one of the crew members survived. He’s currently in the infirmary of the medical unit in Shaikovka.

The crew of four in the Tu-22M3 consists of two pilots seated side-by-side in front, with the navigator and weapons system officer seated behind them. All the crew members are provided with KT-1M ejection seats and the aircraft commander is also able to initiate the ejection sequence for the other crew members — according to Interfax, this was the case in today’s incident. However, these seats require a minimum speed of 80 miles per hour for safe ejection at altitudes below 200 feet. The Tu-22M3 has a typical takeoff speed of 230 miles per hour.

While the Tu-22M3 is a nuclear-capable bomber, Russian media outlets reported that there were no nuclear warheads onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident. There are unconfirmed reports that the damage to the bomber is limited and that it may be possible to return it to service after repairs.

An alleged preliminary report, possibly leaked online, was posted at the Aviaforum site.

In preparation for the training flight, after launching the APU and working with the cockpit equipment, Captain, who is the deputy squadron commander, switched on all CB (Circuit Breakers) on the CB panel with the lever of the console.

At the same time, the system of forced departure of the crew was triggered according to the standard scheme (the commander of the aircraft leaves the plane on his own). When the forced exit system was triggered, four canopy door were dropped and three crew members were ejected. The mechanisms of the ejection seats worked normally, the separation of the crew members and the launching of the rescue parachutes took place normally, but due to the lack of conditions for safely leaving the aircraft (speed less than 130 km / h), the parachutes were not filled.

Three crew members were fatally injured when they fell onto the concrete surface of the aircraft parking lot at high vertical speed. Chairs KT-1M. KT-1M is an ejection seat developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau. Currently installed on Tu-22M3 and Tu-22MR aircraft.

Ejection is carried out in the following sequence: operator, navigator, right pilot, commander. Both individual and forced ejection are possible. Forced ejection of the crew is performed by the commander, for which it is enough to lift the cap and turn on the “Forced exit” toggle switch on the left side of the cockpit.

At the same time, a red banner “Forced Leaving” lights up at each workplace and the EMRV-27B-1 time relay is switched on for the seats of the right pilot, navigator-navigator and navigator-operator, which are set for a time corresponding to 3.6 s, 1.8 s , 0.3 s.

After 0.3 s, the time relays trigger the EK-69 pneumatic system solenoid valve on the navigator-operator’s seat, while the “Readiness” system is triggered on the seat (triggering the arms and legs scatter limiters and tightening the harness) and pressing the limit switch for resetting the lantern cover.

When the “Readiness” system is triggered, the ACh-1,2 temporary automatic machine is activated on the seat, which after 1 s pulls out the combat pin of the firing mechanism.

The Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 is a twin-engine supersonic bomber with variable geometry swept wings. The Tu-22M3 and M3M variants are in wide service in Russia, with over 80 reported in flying with the Russian Air Force and more than 40 in use with Russian Naval Aviation as long-range maritime patrol, surveillance and attack aircraft. Indeed, the aircraft was primarily developed as an anti-ship missile carrier for the Soviet/Russian supersonic Kh-22/32 anti-ship missiles with range of up to 1,000 km (621 miles) as well as for smaller Kh-15 missiles with range of up to 300 km (160 miles).

Tu-22M production took place between 1969 and 1993, producing over 500 examples. Shaykovka is home to two squadrons of Tu-22M3s under the 52nd Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, which has operated the Backfire since 1982. The regiment makes occasional deployments to a reverse base at Soltsy, in the Novgorod region, while its aircraft have also taken part in the Syrian campaign, flying missions from Mozdok Air Base in North Ossetia.

The last fatal accident involving a Tu-22M3 occurred on January 22, 2019, during a landing in blizzard conditions at Olenegorsk airfield in the Murmansk region. On that occasion, three crew members were killed and one survived.

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