09 February, 2020

Utair 737 crash lands in Usinsk

A UTair Boeing 737 aircraft carrying 94 passengers has been forced to make an extremely hard landing in northwestern Russia on Sunday morning.  

“A Utair Boeing crash-landed at Usinsk airport," the local authorities said in the northern Komi region where the city of Usinsk is located.   According to local media reports, the aircraft came down fast and the tail struck the ground first. The jet then skidded across the runway, which is said to have been icy at the time of the crash. Local weather stations indicate temperatures at the airport were -20c.  

"The flight was normal but as we were landing either due to bad weather or some other reason the plane violently shook horizontally." Alexander Panin, a passenger on the downed aircraft said. "It hit the ground so that the landing gear was torn off and we felt that were skidding along the runway as if not able to brake at all.  We all realised that the landing gear was broken. We didn’t feel that the plane was stopping - we were skidding towards the end of the runway."

According to Panin, it was at that time, the aircrew turned the plane into thicker snow that had been banked up at the sides of the runway.  "The right wing was broken and we saw the fuel gushing out. It was all happening very quickly. The crew has ordered us to evacuate from the left side, and we got out quickly. Naturally, by the end of it, there was quite a panic." Panin explained to local media. 

"The crew acted very fast and confidently, and helped with their actions to avoid more panic. Fire appliances were by the plane in minutes."

Utair was the most punctual airline in Russia during 2018 with 99.18% of flights operating to schedule. The airline carried around 8 million passengers last year.  Its route network includes flights to 150 destinations with hubs throughout the country: in Ufa, Ekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Mineralnye Vody, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Sochi, Surgut, Tyumen, and Khanty-Mansiysk. The main transfer point is Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, which offers more than 160 Utair flights daily. The headquarters of Utair is located in Surgut.

In a statement, the airline said "Thanks to the prompt and highly professional actions of the crew, the aircraft was able to stay on the runway until it stopped. Already on the runway there was a breakdown of the main landing gear."  The airline also said that none of the 94 passengers or crew members had been seriously injured although one woman sought medical for a damaged knee.

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