An Antonov-26 carrying 22 passengers and six crew members crashed as it approached Palana Airport in Russia’s far east. No survivors were found.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka Air flight PTK251 connected its base in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Palana airport on July 6, 2021, with 28 people on board. According to the first statements of the Russian authorities reported by the Interfax and RIA Novosti agencies, the control tower lost contact with the An-26 shortly before 1:00 p.m., while it began its approach maneuvers about 9 kilometers from the track. Palana is located on the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, and according to the civil aviation agency Rosaviatsia the cloudy ceiling around the airport is between 300 and 720 meters.
Rescue operations along the route of the aircraft were immediately launched, two helicopters being mobilized to try to find traces of the aircraft. The RIA agency initially announced that the device had crashed at sea, a few tens of meters from the shore, and at least seven boats were heading towards the scene of the accident where a « weak signal » from the beacon of the distress would have been detected.
But early images taken by rescue helicopters show a trace of impact at the top of a cliff, about 4 kilometers from the runway, with vegetation blackened as by fire. According to the Tass agency, the twin-turboprop aircraft registered RA-26085 made its first flight in 1982.
Local authorities have confirmed that all 28 people on board flight PTK251 died in the crash.
Eleven years ago, an An-28 from the same airline operating the same route crashed in Palana, killing 10 of 14 people on board.
In addition to military accidents last March in Kazakhstan or September 2020 in eastern Ukraine, the An-26 was involved in numerous accidents on commercial flights: last August in Juba for South West Aviation (27 dead including eight on the ground), or in 2007 in Kinshasa for Africa One (49 dead including 28 on the ground) to name a few.