Sunday, March 20, 2016

Rostov-on-Don black boxes 'damaged': Flydubai Boeing 737-800, A6-FDN, Flight FZ-981, fatal accident occurred March 19, 2016 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia

Aviation experts are examining two black boxes from the FlyDubai flight that crashed in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all 55 passengers and seven crew on board.

But officials say the cockpit voice and data recorders have been badly damaged and are unlikely to reveal much data.

The FlyDubai Boeing 737-800, coming from Dubai, missed the runway as it attempted to land on Saturday.

Officials say it is not clear what caused the crash 950km south of Moscow.

But poor visibility and high winds are being considered as factors. A criminal investigation has been launched into whether pilot error, a technical fault or the bad weather was the cause.

FlyDubai said the Cypriot pilot and Spanish co-pilot each had nearly 6,000 hours of flying experience.

Inter-State Aviation Committee Deputy Chairman Sergei Zaiko was reported by the Associated Press news agency to have told Russia's Channel One TV station that the black boxes containing flight data recorders were delivered to Moscow on Sunday.

But the committee that investigates plane crashes throughout much of the former Soviet Union said in a statement they had been badly damaged.

The black boxes are being examined by experts from Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the US and France, AP reported, because the American-made Boeing had French-manufactured engines.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have congregated at the crash site to leave flowers, candles and toys in memory of those who were killed.

"I came to give remembrance to those who died. I am from Rostov myself and although I don't personally know those killed, a lot of names are well known, it's a small city," local resident Boris told the AFP news agency.

CCTV footage showed an explosion and a huge flash after the plane crashed and broke into pieces. The force of the crash left a huge crater in the runway with passengers' belongings and remains strewn over a wide area.

The airport at Rostov-on-Don remained closed on Sunday - but Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said that it was likely to reopen on Monday once emergency teams had finished combing the area and repair teams had fixed the runway.

Investigators said all 55 passengers and seven crew - nine different nationalities in total with 45 coming from Russia - died instantly.

Reports say the plane abandoned its initial attempt to land and circled for two hours before crashing at the second attempt.

Original article can be found here:

The Wall Street Journal 
By Nicolas Parasie and Robert Wall
Updated March 20, 2016 8:25 a.m. ET

DUBAI—Air-accident investigators have begun trying to extract information from the black boxes of the FlyDubai jetliner that crashed in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Saturday, killing all 62 people aboard, according to officials involved in the probe.

Russian investigators said the black boxes were recovered but suffered damage in the crash of FlyDubai’s Flight 981, a Boeing Co. 737-800, during a repeated landing attempt at the city’s airport in windy conditions Saturday.

The Russian Interstate Aviation Committee, which is leading the probe, said it was working with specialists from the United Arab Emirates and France to extract the memory units that store the data that typically provides the strongest evidence of what occurred in a crash.

Representatives from the United Arab Emirates late Saturday arrived in Russia to assist in the probe.

The recorders are designed to withstand heavy damage and generally retain data even in extreme cases. Accident investigators typically can extract information from the black boxes even if they are damaged, a process that can take as little as a few days. A cursory review of the data often can also provide strong clues about what went wrong and help ascertain whether any technical malfunction came into play.

The cockpit voice recorder would provide clues about the decision-making process onboard. The flight-data recorder stores details of thousands of plane parameters such as pilot control inputs, which are used to reconstruct what happens and determine if there was any technical fault with the plane.

Even if investigators can quickly assess what likely happened, a detailed analysis of the data from the two storage devices can take weeks or months.

Flight 981 left Dubai at 10:20 p.m. local time Friday. The crew aborted a first landing attempt and circled for about two hours before crashing in a second attempt to land in Rostov at about 3:50 a.m. local time Saturday. The plane was carrying 55 passengers and seven crew members.

The pilot and copilot had several years of experience, having logged 5,900 and 5,700 flight hours, respectively.

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority, said, “The investigation may take time due to the amount of required information on the aircraft, crew, and the operator, Rostov airport, air-traffic control of Rostov airport, weather condition, and information obtained through interviews.”

Investigators also are poised to study conversations the crew might have had with air traffic control and the airline’s flight operations center during the two-hour period between the first landing attempt and the fatal second try. Investigators also may interview the crew of another plane that also attempted to land at Rostov and diverted to another airfield after several failed attempts.

FlyDubai Chief Executive Ghaith Al Ghaith on Sunday said the plane was carrying enough fuel to divert to another airfield. The Rostov airport was open and weather conditions were sufficient for flights to operate, he said, adding the pilot had previously flown to Rostov.

The cause of the accident is unclear. Local authorities said bad weather conditions had forced the pilot to attempt a second landing. 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.

Accident investigators have pledged to issue a preliminary report within a month in adherence with rules set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the air-safety arm of the United Nations. That document often provides only limited information, though. A final report on the crash probe should come within a year of the accident.

The investigation is being supported by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, where the Boeing plane was built. The plane maker said it is providing technical support to the probe. French air-accident investigators also are involved because the 737 plane was powered by engines made by CFM International, a joint venture between France’s Safran SA and General Electric Co.

State-owned budget carrier FlyDubai will resume service to Rostov once the airport reopens, the airline’s CEO said.

The airline said bookings haven’t been affected. Airlines typically suffer a slump in demand in the immediate weeks after a crash, although bookings generally rebound.

Original article can be found here:

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