Horrifying new footage of the jet disaster that killed 41 in Moscow has emerged amid claims pilots made basic errors during the emergency because they were incapable of landing without the assistance of autopilot.
The Aeroflot plane can be seen bouncing down the runway before bursting into a deadly fireball at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on May 5.
The footage emerged as an expert claimed that the experienced captain Denis Evdokimov - hospitalised as a result of the crash - had never previously manually flown the Sukhoi Superjet 100 in so-called 'direct mode' before the crash.
A lightning strike soon after takeoff forced the pilots to make an emergency landing but this should not have led to the flames in which dozens were burned alive or killed by toxic fumes, say authoritative figures in Moscow.
The crash investigation is leaning towards 'pilot error' over the landing and leading Moscow experts now say an 'over-dependence on autopilot' on commercial flights is an issue that should be addressed by all major airlines.
Newly released footage shows the plane (top) bouncing as it careered along the runway before bursting into flames
The plane's captain and pilot Denis Evdokimov receiving treatment at a hospital in Moscow
Despite the lightning strike which disabled the plane's internal communications, an emergency landing in manual mode should have been relatively straightforward, according to Kommersant newspaper, which cited sources in the official investigation.
But 'it was the pilots themselves who dangerously speeded up the aircraft immediately before landing and, on top of that, put it into a dive'.
This made the situation 'critical'.
'Now the investigation is to establish which of the two pilots performed the dangerous manoeuvre that cost 41 lives,' stated Kommserant.
Autopilot systems allow pilots to fully automate landing procedures or to partially control them. They can also be totally switched off, allowing the pilot to take full control.
In this case, it is believed the pilot chose to land the aircraft without the aid of the autopilot system - a process which Denis Evdokimov was reportedly not well-practiced in.
Separately, aviation expert and former designer at Sukhoi Design Bureau, Vadim Lukashevich, said: 'I believe that this catastrophe is a consequence of a set of mistakes of pilots that began from the moment when lightning hit the plane.
The investigation is attempting to establish which of the two pilots performed the manoeuvre that cost 41 lives. Pictured: Co-pilot Maxim Kuznetsov
Aviation experts claimed the pilots were too reliant on the autopilot feature. Maxim Kuznetsov pictured left and right
'It caused problems but they were not critical. The decision to return was right.
'But then the pilots had to remember they actually are pilots and had to fly the plane the way that was normal for international aviation 40 years ago, without autopilot.
'To my knowledge, the commander of the aircraft Denis Evdokimov who has flown over 1,400 hours on SSJ-100 had never landed in Direct Mode (fully manually).
'They were landing normally, with a glide path but they pushed the nose down and increased the speed before landing.
'It was lucky that the front gear didn't break. If that happened, the consequences would have been even worse.'
Fireball: The Russian plane trails a huge cloud of smoke on the tarmac at the Moscow airport
The SSJ-100 aircraft of Aeroflot Airlines jet on fire during an emergency landing in Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, Russia
He said : 'I believe that the incident is the result of a piloting mistake.'
The Russian-made plane 'fell from the height of a three-storey building. No airliner existing today would have endured such a landing.'
Top Russian test pilot Viktor Zabolotsky said: 'The pilots did everything right initially.
'They went on a second approach, and came towards the runway on a glide path.
'Traffic controllers were absolutely calm and started discussing where they should taxi after landing. It is hard to say at which stage mistakes were made - most likely when levelling.
'Anyway it is not a proper landing when the front landing gear touches down first, not the rear.
'They should have gone for another approach.