Flight from Dubai crashes in Rostov-on-Don on repeated landing attempt, says Russian ministry
The Wall Street Journal
By LAURA MILLS and JON OSTROWER
Updated March 19, 2016 11:43 a.m. ET
A FlyDubai airliner crashed in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don early Saturday, killing all 62 people aboard, according to the Russian Emergency Ministry.
The Boeing Co. 737-800 crashed during a repeated landing attempt at the city’s airport, according to the ministry.
The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately clear. Flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 said the plane had been climbing after a second landing attempt when it suddenly began to fall at rapid speed. Previously, local authorities had said that the plane’s wing had touched the runway upon a second landing attempt, causing it to break apart.
Closed-circuit television footage appeared to show an object hitting the ground at a fast speed, followed by an explosion.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal probe and was considering “error by the plane’s crew, technical malfunction on board, bad weather conditions and other factors” among the possible reasons for the crash. One of the plane’s flight recorders has been recovered from the scene, the committee said.
FlyDubai said flight FZ981 departed from Dubai International Airport at 10:20 p.m. local time Friday (2:20 p.m. ET) and was bound for Rostov-on-Don. The crash occurred at the destination about 3:50 a.m. local time Saturday, it added.
Of those on board, 55 were passengers and seven were crew members, the ministry said. The airline said the nationalities of the passengers included 44 Russians, eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one Uzbek.
According to FlightRadar, between the FlyDubai plane’s first and second landing attempts, another aircraft tried to land at the airport and diverted elsewhere.
FlyDubai said it was working with authorities to find out what caused the crash. “We do not know all of the details of the incident but we are working closely with all the authorities to establish precisely what happened,” Ghaith Al Ghaith, FlyDubai’s chief executive, said at a news conference in Dubai. A team is leaving for Russia soon to help with the investigations, he added.
Mr. Ghaith said the crew flying the plane was experienced. The pilot had logged around 5,900 flight hours in his career, with the copilot having flown 5,700 hours.
The plane, which was built in 2011, underwent regularly scheduled major maintenance in January.
Boeing said it would serve as a technical adviser to the Russian-led crash probe. The Chicago-based company said that under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board it was launching a team to aid the investigation.
FlyDubai was set up in 2008 by the government of Dubai, which also owns Emirates, the largest airline in the world by international traffic. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum heads both airlines.
The airline has sought to replicate the successful low-cost model pioneered by Southwest Airlines Co. Many of the carrier’s operational leaders are former U.S. airline executives.
Saturday’s crash is the worst in the airline’s short history and of its few notable safety incidents. In January 2015, one of its 737s came under fire during landing in Baghdad.
The fast-growing, low-cost carrier operates an all-Boeing 737-800 fleet and received its 50th aircraft in October, just over six years after the carrier took its first jet from the plane maker.
The last previous fatal accident involving a 737-800 occurred in 2010 when an Air India Express plane crashed on landing killing all 158 people onboard, according to the Aviation Safety Network, an accident tracking site affiliated with the not-for-profit Flight Safety Foundation. Investigators blamed pilot fatigue for the botched landing.
The event comes after the safest year in the history of commercial jet aviation world-wide. According to industry data, 2015 was the first year without a single passenger fatality as a result of a jetliner accident. Those numbers don’t include planes that are believed to have been brought down by a bomb or other intentional acts.
—Nicolas Parasie, Andy Pasztor and Robert Wall contributed to this article.
Original article can be found here: http://www.wsj.com