Lightning Knocked Out Russian Plane’s Communications Before Crash: Report

The pilot of the Aeroflot Superjet 100 that crash-landed at Sheremetyevo airport Sunday, killing 41, said Monday that lightning struck the plane soon after takeoff and knocked out communications with air-traffic control, The Independent reports. “There was a bright flash and a bang,” pilot Denis Evdokimov is quoted as saying. “The fire began after landing, I understand, because of the landing.” Data from online flight tracker Flightradar24 shows the jet made a loop in the skies north of Moscow, the departure city, before heading back to the airport. Airport surveillance video shows the plane coming in hard and bouncing on the tarmac before bursting into flames as it skidded to a fiery halt. On Monday, Russian authorities said the aircraft’s black boxes had been recovered from the wreckage and that they are looking into inexperienced pilots, mechanical failure, and weather conditions as potential factors in the deadly crash. At least 41 of the 78 passengers and crew on board were killed, including two children. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that one U.S. citizen is among the dead.