Head of Ural Airlines: “Such a landing with stalled engines happens once in 40 years”

Honouring for hero pilot Damir Yusupov from Airbus A321 and his crew at the stadium in Yekaterinburg

A special commission of Russian aviation agencies and Airbus continued the investigation of causes of the emergency at the airport of Zhukovsky. Sergey Skuratov, director general of Ural Airlines, shared with details of the investigation with Realnoe Vremya. The plane managed to successfully land in a cornfield thanks to pilot Damir Yusupov’s heroic efforts. Birds that sucked into the plane’s engine were guilty of the accident. This is why the airline urged to take all necessary measures to protect the country’s airports. The company also prepared to honour the crew whose skilful actions saved the lives of more than 200 passengers. The award ceremony was to take place at Yekaterinburg Arena football stadium before Ural vs Krylya Sovetov match. Aircraft captain Damir Yusupov was going to kick the ball first.

Such a clash with birds happens once in 40 years

Passengers of the life-changing flight Moscow — Simferopol don’t stop thanking the pilots for their second birthday. The airline is studying the causes of the accident and urging aviation authorities to take all the measures to prevent dangerous clashes of planes with birds at the airport, which is a trouble for all pilots. Director General of the airline Sergey Skuratov confirmed in a talk with our newspaper that both engines of the plane turned off during the flight after clashing with a flock of seagulls. The birds proliferated on an illegal landfill next to Zhukovsky airport.

“This [birds end up in the engine] usually happens in autumn: crows, a lot of wild ducks, seagulls mill around,” Sergey Skuratov told Realnoe Vremya. “When a small bird ends up in the engine, there is no damage. This time it was a clash with a flock of seagulls. This happens very rarely. Such a landing with stalled engines happens once in 40 years.”

According to him, there must be no landfill with food wastes and construction waste, water bodies in the radius of 15 km from the airport to provide security of flights. “The investigation is a long process, a flight and technical examination is also to be done, but the cause is obvious and clear, it is big birds in the engine. Moreover, in both engines,” Skuratov said and specified that the state commission investigating the circumstances of the accident will provide conclusions. He supposes that order must be put at airports to avoid such incidents.

“Whether we want it or not, but order must be put at every airport (in the radius of flight safety),” he noted.

Skuratov added that head of the Russian Air Transport Agency Aleksandr Neradko was solving this problem for all pilots.

Ural Airlines to award the captain big bonus

The head of Ural Airlines reminded once again that crew captain Damir Yusupov made the only correct decision — a belly gear-up landing in a field — and gave a high appraisal of his actions. “The field itself is uneasy, it has special channels: they successfully jumped over one of them, they were lucky here. The guys did a good job, they weren’t confused,” Sergey Skuratov isn’t tired of admiring them. According to him, indeed, the pilots had seconds to make decisions and do all necessary actions.

A fire didn’t break out, fortunately, but the team of flight attendants worked very well — all passengers were evacuated. “Nobody was taken out on a stretcher,” he said. “There weren’t serious injuries. A woman remained in hospital 12 hours after the landing. She turned out to have a simple ankle fracture, the rest was released from the hospital and went home happy”.

Now the airline is handing out 100,000 rubles to all passengers, Skuratov said. 78 passengers who refused to fly to Simferopol immediately got the money of the tickets back. The rest flew to Crimea.

The head of the airline who is now on the scene of the emergency at Zhukovsky plans to go back to Yekaterinburg and meet with the heroic crew that saved lives of 226 tourists. “I will talk personally with everyone, help them to tea and give a tour if they all want to have a holiday, they will have a rest,” he promised.

Sergey Skuratov considers the crew captain the best pilot. “He did a good job, studied at Saint Petersburg Civil Aviation University, which is the summit of aviation education in Russia. He worked as a second pilot for several years, proved that he was good, went through all competitions, because we have only competition. He won. I personally signed his certificate,” Skuratov said. He promised that apart from the state awards the crew captain would get a big bonus as gratitude of the airline. “And, of course, he will receive sincere respect and admiration of all pilots of our airline and all pilots of Russia,” he concluded.

Seagull perforates the glass, and the co-pilot was covered in blood

Heads of Tatarstan airlines expect the control of ornithological protection at airports to be tightened because of the accident at Zhukovsky. Director UVT Aero Pyotr Trubayev agrees that birds next to airports are a serious problem for pilots. “As a rule, birds got to the fuselage, windshields and power units. This immediately stops the engine and causes burning, which happened on that day but without a fire.” In his opinion, the Kazan airport looks “at a due level” among others. “It has fewer problems of this kind than other airports,” he noted but didn’t reveal internal statistics of the “meeting with birds”. “Pilots not only complain, they compulsorily report on every incident of this kind, and we react and turn to airports so that they will reinforce ornithological protection. This happens not only in autumn but also in spring. Landfills, water bodies and ploughed fields affect the safety of flights. I am sure that after the emergency at Zhukovsky the requirements for airports will tighten,” Trubayev supposes.

Head of Kazan Aviation Enterprise Magomed Zakarzhayev admits that such incidents happen to helicopters, too, which “catch” birds with blades. “I remember a seagull getting into the An-2, it perforated the glass, and the second pilot was covered in blood. It was Ildus Kuramshin. But there hasn’t been such a serious clash with a flock of birds in Tatarstan like in Zhukovsky,” he said. Magomed Zakarzhayev also supposes that the birds came from illegal landfill sites: “It is said that there is more than one illegal landfill near Zhukovsky.”

Why did this happen at Zhukovsky, which is considered a new airport in Russia? “Yes, there wasn’t an airport there previously,” Magomed Zakarzhayev says. “It used to be an absolutely closed military training area. The coolest flight stations used to be here. But due to a reduction in tests, it was decided to shift commercial flights there. Moscow airports are full. We also wanted to build hangars to maintain helicopters there but then found other options. There is no need to change ornithological rules, they are synched with international rules. They will just control better. Though chumminess is loved in our country,” Zakarzhayev summed up.
By Luiza Ignatyeva
Analytics BashkortostanUdmurtiaTatarstan
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