It was like US Airways flight 1549 – the Miracle on the Hudson – but in a field. A Ural Airlines Airbus A321 suffered a serious bird strike on takeoff from Moscow Zhukovsky airport. The flight was headed to Simferopol in the Ukraine and had 226 passengers and 7 crew on board.
The aircraft hit a flock of birds and ingested them into both engines as it climbed out at around 750 feet. The engines failed and crew executed a landing in a field less than 3 miles past the end of the runway, between the middle and outer marker. The plane’s landing gears were retracted during the emergency landing. And while the occurrence aircraft was heavily damaged, passengers evacuated and as of this writing only 10 minor injuries were reported.
The aircraft was found outside the airport, the right hand engine was smoking but no fires, no fuel leaking, the cabin was inspected for people inside, the engines were sprayed for cooling. Eight busses were deployed to the accident site to return the passengers to Zhukovsky Airport.
It was literally a flock of seagulls that took out the plane.
More photos: Airbus A321 (VQ-BOZ) Ural Airlines resting in a corn field after making an emergency landing, 15.08. It hit a flock of birds after take-off, flight #U6178. 226 passengers + 7 crew, 15 minor injuries reported. Photos: https://t.co/e7eYU78kkW, Olga Shavrova. @JacdecNew pic.twitter.com/yo5ptbtI9R
— Aeronews (@AeronewsRO) August 15, 2019
There is a criminal investigation, despite the obvious bird strike, perhaps because the area of the Ukraine the plane was headed to is disputed territory. Russia would certainly like to pin a ‘terrorist attack’ on Ukraine, though this one seems as though it would be a stretch. (After a bird strike in the U.S. they actually investigate the bird.)
Here’s video of the accident site:
And passenger footage from the ground:
Sitting through the aftermath of a bird strike – let alone a double bird strike – is scary enough. I was on a plane flying Dallas Fort-Worth – San Francisco when we struck a bird on takeoff. The bang reverberated through the cabin. A calm and collected captain announced we’d be turning around and heading back to the airport. I held my breath the entire way back, though I’ve never seen such a direct approach into DFW as we were given that day. We stopped for a brief visual inspection before returning to the terminal and I was truly grateful. Even imagining what the passengers on the aircraft went through sends chills up my body.
The crew of the Ural Airlines aircraft did a truly heroic job landing their aircraft, wheels up in a field, keeping the fuselage intact. And fortunately there did not appear to be fuel leaking from the engines. Walking away from this is really special.