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Miracle in a cornfield: Airliner belly-lands safely outside Moscow following bird strike

Published Date : August 15, 2019

Moscow (TASS): An Airbus A321 made a crash landing near Zhukovsky International Airport in the Moscow region. According to the airline, both engines of the plane failed after hitting birds.

There were 226 passengers and seven crew members aboard the aircraft. All passengers were promptly evacuated. As many as fifty-five passengers, including 17 children, have sought medical attention after the incident. 

The plane that made a crash landing was significantly damaged and won’t perform flights in the near future, the airline said in a statement.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has hailed the pilots of the Ural Airlines aircraft, who safely conducted an emergency landing in a cornfield outside Moscow on Thursday morning as heroes.

“Today is a really good day. Let’s congratulate each other that 234 passengers and seven crewmembers are alive, let us offer our wishes for a speedy recovery to those, who were injured and congratulate the heroic pilots for saving people’s lives and landing the plane,” Peskov emphasized.

The Kremlin spokesman noted that there was no doubt that the pilots would receive state awards soon.

Peskov also said that the plane accident needs to be promptly investigated.

“Clearly, the plane accident will be investigated and its cause will be identified,” he said. “Since the plane’s fuselage is intact and the flight recorders have been found, it will definitely be done quickly,” Peskov added.

He pointed out that there were rules for such activities. “It will be possible to draw conclusions only after when everything is done,” he said.

When asked if illegal dumps near Zhukovsky Airport could be the cause of the accident, Peskov pointed out that an “unrelenting fight” against illegal dumps was underway.

Eyewitnesses said the skilled actions of the pilot and flight attendants helped prevent a tragedy. The captain managed to land the plane smoothly, one of the passengers, Svetlana Babina, told TASS.

“I was sitting in the fifth row. The passengers quickly realized that this would be an emergency landing. The plane touched down smoothly, and as far as I can tell, no one was seriously injured. After the plane had landed, everyone applauded the pilot,” she said. Another passenger told TASS that grave consequences were avoided thanks to the airplane’s crew and their successful landing.

The flight commander, Damir Yusupov, 41, has over 3,000 hours of flight experience. The second pilot, Georgy Murzin, 23, has more than 600 hours of flight experience.

Crash landing

A Ural Airlines Airbus A321 en route from Moscow to Simferopol made a belly landing near Zhukovsky International Airport earlier on Thursday. According to the Federal Air Transport Agency, the plane struck a flock of birds shortly after takeoff. Both of the aircraft’s engines sucked in some birds and caught fire. There were over 230 people aboard the aircraft, including 41 kids.

The crew managed to land the plane in a cornfield and evacuate all passengers. According to medical sources, a total of 55 people, including 17 children, sought medical treatment, six people were taken to the hospital.

Russia’s Investigative Committee launched an investigation into the crash landing under Article 263.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (failure to satisfy air transport safety requirements. The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), in turn, set up a commission to investigate the accident.

A source in the Gromov Flight Research Institute told TASS that a bird deterrent system at Zhukovsky International Airport was operating normally at the time of the accident. “Flights can neither arrive nor depart unless the system is operational,” the source said.

“During takeoff, engine roar forced birds sitting along the runway into the air, and as a result, the engines sucked in some of them,” the source said, adding that bird flocks were a well-known problem for Zhukovsky Airport as there was an illegal dump site in the area.

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