Incredible Video: Airbus A321 With 226 Passengers Lands in a Field, No Serious Injuries

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.

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. A great heroic story that definitely brings back memories of Sully. Interesting that the first stories I saw this morning said it was a “Russian made aircraft.” I guess that was just typical “fog of war” early reporting.

  2. Wow. Those Airbuses are definitely well-built. Congrats to the engineers who built them and for not cutting corners on safety).

    And, of course, to the pilots for a perfectly executed emergency landing (but everyone already does that, as if that’s all that’s needed).

  3. I wonder if they had the same problems as us with people slowing everyone else down to get their stuff, which they feel is more important than human lives. Other people’s lives anyway.

  4. Gary,

    Please be aware that the reference to the nation of Ukraine as “the Ukraine” is incredibly outdated and erroneous. This reference is a derogatory slur used decades ago by Russians and Nazi Germany. The good people of Ukraine deserve to be treated with a bit of respect and yet so many journalists still haven’t gotten the memo that using this term is inappropriate..

    Many people are unaware that using this phrase is akin to calling the nation of Ukraine “the projects” or “ the ghetto” as used in English.

    I heading to Odesa on Wednesday. I spend multiple weeks every year in Ukraine. Great place to visit if you have never been.

  5. Criminal investigation is an SOP in Russia for major transport accidents. Nothing to do with geopolitics. Gives investigators more powers, I guess. Fingers are being pointed to illegal garbage dumps which attract seagulls.
    According to all accounts the evacuation was quick and orderly.

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