On 6 December 1997 a Russian Air Force Antonov An-124-100, en route from Irkutsk Northwest Airport to Cam Ranh Air Base in Vietnam, crashed in a residential area after take-off from Irkutsk-2 airport.
Leased by Ukrainian Cargo Airways, the aircraft was carrying two Sukhoi Su-27 fighters for delivery to the Vietnam People's Air Force, with a planned stopover at Vladivostok.
Three seconds after lift-off from Runway 14 at Irkutsk, the No.3 engine surged at approximately 5 m (16 ft) altitude. The aircraft continued to climb, but at a high angle of attack, disrupting airflow to No.1 and No.2 engines which also surged.
Unable to continue climbing the aircraft descended until it struck houses in Mira Street, 1,600 m (0.99 mi) beyond the runway end, killing all 23 on board and 49 persons on the ground.
This Antonov An-124-100 aircraft was first leased by Aeroflot in 1985 with her maiden flight on 30 October 1985. On 14 February 1988, ownership was transferred to the Russian Air Force, under the 566th Military Transport Regiment based in Seshcha airport, with a tail number of RA-82005. On the day of the accident the plane had clocked 576 cycles for the Russian Air Force and had flown over 1034 hours.
On 6 December 1997, the An-124-100 RA-82005 was transporting two Su-27UBK fighters with a total weight of 40 tons en route to Vietnam.
At 14:42 IKT plane took off from Irkutsk. However, just 3 seconds after lift-off from the runway at a height of 5 meters, there was a surge in engine number 3 and a growth of the angular velocity of the plane. This resulted in a shutdown of engine number 2. 8 seconds after take off at the altitude of 66 meters, following a surge in engine number 1, the plane went into a descent.
Although the pilots had tried to maintain control over the plane with a single remaining functioning engine, the plane crashed into apartment block number 45 on Mira Street. The tail section of the plane significantly damaged block number 120 and a neighboring orphanage.
The crash resulted in the deaths of all of the crew on board the plane as well as 49 people on the ground (including 12 children from the orphanage). More than 70 families were left homeless due the damage dealt on the two blocks by the crashed plane. The damages were aggravated due to the ignition of tons of aviation fuel leaked during the crash.
A special commission was established to investigate the causes of the disaster.
The two flight data recorders, including the cockpit voice recorder, were in the center of the fire and were too badly damaged to provide meaningful data. The cause of failure of the three engines at once was officially recognized as the excessive overload of the aircraft.
In an interview with the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, test pilot Alexander Akimenkov said that the cause of the accident of RA-82005 in Irkutsk could be the call of one of the passengers on the Chinese radio telephone, which affected the electronics work.
Major General Boris Tumanov, former chief of the Russian Air Force flight safety service (1993–2002) and a member of the commission of inquiry into air accidents with military aircraft, told Moskovsky Komsomolets that the cause of the accident was the failure of three engines as a result of the surge.
In 2009, Fedor Muravchenko, General Designer of Design Bureau Ivchenko-Progress (which is the developer of aircraft engines for the An-124), gave his own version of the causes of the disaster. On the basis of this enterprise of research and experiments and their own theoretical calculations, he concluded that a disaster situation was caused by high (in excess of normative) water content in aviation fuel (kerosene) and as a consequence – ice formation and clogging of fuel filters, causing surging engines.