The Sknyliv air show disaster occurred on 27 July 2002, when a Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 piloted by Volodymyr Toponar and co-piloted by Yuriy Yegorov crashed during an aerobatics presentation at Sknyliv airfield near Lviv, Ukraine. The accident killed 77 people and injured 543, 100 of whom were hospitalised. It is the deadliest air show accident in history.
More than 10,000 spectators attended the Saturday air show, staged to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Ukrainian Air Force's 14th Air Corps. The Su-27 aircraft was flown by two experienced pilots; it entered a rolling maneuver at 12:52 p.m. with a downward trajectory at low altitude. It rolled upright once more and was still descending rapidly when the left wing dropped shortly before it hit the ground, at which point the crew initiated ejection. The aircraft flattened out initially, skidding over the ground towards stationary aircraft and striking a glancing blow against the nose of an Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft before beginning to explode and cartwheel into the crowd of spectators.Both pilots survived with minor injuries, while 77 spectators were killed, including 28 children (though initial reports by the Emergency Situations Ministry put the number of dead at 83, including 23 children). Another 100 were hospitalized for head injuries, burns, and bone fractures. Other injuries were less severe and did not require hospitalization; a total of 543 people were injured during the accident.Following the disaster, the pilots stated that the flight map which they had received differed from the actual layout. On the cockpit voice recorder, one pilot asks, "And where are our spectators?" Others have suggested that the pilots were slow to react to automated warnings issued by the flight computer.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma publicly blamed the military for the disaster and dismissed head of the air force, General Viktor Strelnykov. Defense minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko sent in his resignation, but Kuchma rejected it.On 24 June 2005, a military court sentenced pilot Volodymyr Toponar and co-pilot Yuriy Yegorov to 14 and 8 years in prison, respectively. The court found the two pilots and three other military officials guilty of failing to follow orders, negligence, and violating flight rules. Two of the three officials were sentenced to up to six years in prison, and the last official received up to four years. In addition, Toponar was ordered to pay 7.2 million Ukrainian hryvnia (US$1.42 million; €1.18 million) in compensation to the families, and Yegorov 2.5 million hryvnia. The crew's main flight trainer was acquitted for lack of evidence. After the verdict was announced, Toponar said that he planned to appeal, insisting that the crash was due to technical problems and a faulty flight plan. Yegorov was released in 2008 after President Yushchenko issued a decree reducing his sentence to three and a half years.The pilots were assigned the majority of the blame, which included accusations of attempting maneuvers with which they were not experienced. Toponar had requested an additional training flight at the airfield where the display was to be performed; this request was denied.