A Russian airliner landed in a remote Siberian field on Tuesday morning after the aircraft experienced a hydraulic failure and then ran out of fuel, local Russian media have reported.
The Airbus A320 aircraft operated by Ural Airlines was flying from the Russian city of Sochi to Omsk when the pilots reported a technical issue with the hydraulic system.
The Captain reportedly told air traffic controllers that he feared the plane’s brakes wouldn’t be effective on the shorter runway at Omsk, so he requested a diversion to an alternative airport in Novosibirsk.
During the diversion, the aircraft used up more fuel than anticipated and the pilots then decided to land the aircraft in a field, fearing that they wouldn’t have enough fuel to get all the way to Novosibirsk.
All 159 passengers, including 23 children, and six crew members evacuated the aircraft without incident using the emergency slides. Five passengers required medical assistance, including two for bruising sustained during the evacuation.
The passengers have already been reunited with their luggage and the West Siberian Railway is organising a train to get them to Omsk. Ural Airlines said the passengers would each be given around $1,000 in compensation.
A spokesperson for the airline dismissed concerns that Western sanctions could have impacted the airworthiness of the European Airbus A320. The nearly 20 year old aircraft has been certified as safe to fly until 2024, and the airline says it plans to return the plane to service.
Recovery work will take around one month and then some restoration work will be required to make the aircraft airworthy again. Ural Airlines didn’t say it would get the spare parts to complete this work.
The TASS news agency reported that a criminal case has been opened to investigate a potential violation of air safety rules. The pilots have been suspended pending the conclusion of the investigation but the Governor of the Omsk region has already said that he wants to present the crew with bravery awards.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.