Wagner Mercenary Leader on Board: Tragedy Hits Embraer Legacy 600 Jet
An Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet, identified as the possible aircraft that transported Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, experienced an unexpected and severe incident during its flight. According to flight-tracking data, the aircraft remained stable without any visible issues until its last 30 seconds in the air, when it suddenly dropped in altitude.
Rosaviatsia, Russia's aviation agency, disclosed that the downed plane was carrying Prigozhin and 9 other individuals. The flight, which was en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg, ended tragically near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver Region, as reported by Russia's emergency situations ministry.
The aircraft exhibited a swift and vertical descent at 3:19 p.m. GMT, as reported by Ian Petchenik from Flightradar24. Within a mere half-minute, the jet plummeted over 8,000 feet from its cruising altitude of 28,000 feet. Petchenik noted the rapidity of the incident, implying that whatever transpired, occurred abruptly.
Petchenik suggested the possibility that the occupants might have struggled with the aircraft following the occurrence, speculating that there was no prior indication of any issues with the aircraft before its drastic descent.
Visual footage captured the plane's swift decline, with the nose pointing sharply downward and a visible trail of smoke or vapor trailing behind it.
Russian authorities initiated a criminal investigation to ascertain the circumstances of the incident. While some undisclosed sources within Russian media proposed the notion that the plane might have been targeted by surface-to-air missiles, this information has not been confirmed by Reuters.
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer SA confirmed that it had not been providing any services or support to the plane in recent times. The company clarified its compliance with international sanctions against Russia. The luxury jet was identified by Flightradar24 with registration number RA-02795, matching the plane that carried Prigozhin to Belarus following the mutiny, as revealed by an industry insider familiar with the situation.
The online flight tracking service, Flightradar24, recorded the plane's last known position at 3:11 p.m. GMT, prior to the incident. It is suggested that signal jamming or interference in the vicinity could have hindered the collection of subsequent location data.
Additional data was available for approximately nine more minutes. Flightradar24 reported a sequence of ascents and descents spanning several thousand feet within a 30-second timeframe before the plane's final and tragic plunge. The last data from the jet was received by Flightradar24 at 3:20 p.m.