Natalia Fileva died Sunday in a plane crash. She was one of Russia’s wealthiest women and co-owner of S7 Airlines, one of the largest airlines in Russia. Fileva was known as “The Iron Lady” of Russian aviation and championed aerospace innovation.
The crash of an Epic LT single-engined turboprop aircraft private aircraft holding Fileva and two others occurred near Frankfurt en route from France. The aircraft sustained significant damage 4 years ago.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Flight was Heading From Cannes
According to data from a flight tracker Flighradar24, the flight disappeared from radars at 1322 GMT. The plane was part of Globus Airlines fleet, a subsidiary of S7.
Two passengers including Natalia Fileva and her father, along with the pilot, were aboard the six-seater aircraft. Fileva was 55-years-old, and chairwoman of S7 Airlines (also known as Siberia Airlines). Her father was traveling with her and they were in route to medical treatment.
“The S7 Group holding team expresses deepest condolences to the family and significant others,” the company said.
2. Fileva was Called “The Iron Lady” of Russian Aviation
“The memory of her as an inspiring and sympathetic leader and a wonderful person will forever stay in the hearts of all S7 Group employees,” S7 said in a statement.
German and Russian authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.
“An official with Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS), the company in charge of air traffic control for Germany, told TASS that the pilot presumably lost control of the aircraft while performing a turn.
‘I cannot say for sure what caused the tragedy, but I may presume that the pilot possibly lost control of the aircraft for some reason while performing a turn,’ he said, adding that the plane crashed ‘directly upon landing,'” reports The Siberian Times.
Fileva’s father Valery Karachev and the pilot, Andrey Dikun were also killed.
3. Aviation was Fileva’s Family Business
Fileva co-founded S7 and was known for “Pioneering the improvement of the civilian fleet leading to greater safety and comfort and building perhaps the country’s best airline,” according to The Siberian Times.
Fileva and her husband, S7 chief executive Vladislav Filev, have four children including one adopted girl. Their oldest daughter Tatiana also works for S7.
Oleg Panteleev, head of analytic service of Aviaport company, said she was “not really a public person but her influence on the business group (was) enormous.”
As well as Director of Irkutsk airport development Andrey Andreev said, “The Filev couple went under nicknames Mama and Papa among S7 Group staff. Many felt they were orphaned today,” reports The Siberian Times.
Fileva held a degree from Novosibirsk State Technical University in radio engineering and from the Novosibirsk State University of Economics and Management, where she earned a degree in production management.
4. Fileva was Said to be Russia’s Fourth Richest Woman
Fileva has an estimated net worth of $600 million. She is considered Russia’s fourth richest woman.
Since 2010, S7 has been part of the OneWorld Alliance. According to the company’s website, “In the fall of 2018 S7 Airlines was the first in Russia to receive the modern midrange airliner Boeing 737 MAX.”
“In April 2018, the group acquired Sea Launch spacecraft service company and its maritime launch platform Odyssey, thus becoming the country’s first aerospace company,” reports Aerotime News Hub.
S7 Technics acquired Oregon-based Epic Aircraft in 2012. The Epic LT is not yet certified with the certified version to be named the E1000 and set for release in 2019 after initial plans for 2015 were delayed. The planes are built in Bend, Oregon.
“The Epic LT is an amateur-built plane developed by Epic Aircraft in Bend. The company’s major investor is S7 Group co-owner and Fileva’s husband, Vladislav Filev. For the past several years he has backed the company’s effort to obtain factory certification of the E1000, which is based on the design of the LT,” reports The Bulletin.
This is the second fatal crash of an Epic LT. According to a National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Report, the first crash in 2016, which killed 2 people, was probably caused by “the pilot’s loss of airplane control due to spatial disorientation, which resulted in the exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack and an aerodynamic stall/spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to fly a stabilized approach consistent with the published instrument approach procedure.”
5. Fileva’s Husband Also had an Accident in the Epic LT
The Siberian Times reports that “in 2015, Filev had an accident in his Epic LT at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.”
In this incident, the plane failed to stop at the tarmac when landing because Filev ‘forgot to drop the landing gear.’
He was reported to be extremely tired after a long flight of several thousand kilometers. The last leg was from Brno to Moscow.”
This airframe was serial number 19 built in 2008, according to Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer. Fleets Analyzer is a global database of aircraft. Fleets Analyzer confirmed it to be the same aircraft which “sustained major damage almost exactly four years ago.”
“Russian investigators have disclosed that the Epic LT aircraft which crashed killing S7 Group chief Nataliya Fileva was an 11-year old airframe operated by a company identified as Globus,” according to Flight Global.