Flydubai plane crash: no survivors after Flight FZ981 crashes in Russia


A jet operated by Middle Eastern budget carrier FlyDubai crashed in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don Saturday morning, killing all 62 people on board.

Flight FZ981 broke apart as it hit the ground while trying to land at 3.40am, killing 55 passengers and seven crew, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on its website. One of the two flight recorders, or black boxes, has so far been found, Interfax reported, citing officials investigating the crash. The accident occurred about 1000 kilometres south of Moscow.

The plane was making a repeat attempt to land in poor weather conditions when its wing touched the runway, leading the aircraft to break apart and burst into flames, the Rostov branch of the Emergencies Ministry said.

A CCTV frame grab purporting to show Flight FZ981 on fire near Rostov-on-Don airport.
A CCTV frame grab purporting to show Flight FZ981 on fire near Rostov-on-Don airport. Photo: AP
Strong winds of more than 20 meters per second was registered in Rostov-on-Don at about the time of the crash, Rossiya 24 state television reported, citing local weather service.


“We are working with the local emergency services and other agencies who are at the scene,” flydubai said in a statement.

“At this moment our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our passengers and crew who were on board the aircraft.”

Russian emergency trucks near the scene of the plane crash at the Rostov-on-Don airport.
Russian emergency trucks near the scene of the plane crash at the Rostov-on-Don airport. Photo: Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations/AP
Preliminary numbers on the passenger list showed 33 women, 18 men, 4 children and 7 crew on the Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

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The passengers were mostly Russian, with Ukrainian, Uzbek and Indian nationals also on board, flydubai said.

The plane circled the airport for about 40 to 50 minutes before the pilot took the decision to land, Interfax newswire reported, citing sources familiar with the preliminary details of investigation.

The crew were calm and didn’t report problems, the agency said.

It also reported officials as saying they were investigating human error, technical failure and difficult weather conditions among possible reasons for the crash.

“Winds exceeding 30 knots, a low cloud base, rain and low visibility may have resulted in an unstable approach situation leading the crew to initiate a go-around, execute a missed approach procedure and review the options to either divert or attempt another landing,” said Mark Martin, an aviation analyst and founder of Dubai-based Martin Consultancy.

“Weather and winds during the time from decent until approach may have exceeded the normal approach wind component for most narrow body aircraft.”

A dramatic video of what is purported to be the plane crashing, captured on CCTV at a nearby building, has been widely circulated on social media, though it remains unverified.

Footage claiming to show crash and explosion of #FlyDubai FZ981 emerges; authenticity not yet verified
— CCTVNEWS (@cctvnews) March 19, 2016

The airport is operated by a unit of billionaire Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova Group.

It has two runways and serves more than two million passengers per year on domestic and international flights.

The airport will remain closed until midnight, airport spokeswoman Olga Ladeyschikova said by phone.

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The city of Rostov-on-Don is located near the Black Sea and not far from the border with Ukraine in the south of the country.

Body parts have been found near the wreckage, Interfax reported, quoting Igor Oder, head of the southern region branch of the Emergency Ministry.

In between the flydubai jet’s first attempt to land and the crash, another plane made three landing efforts and then diverted, FlightRadar 24, which tracks airline movements, said in a Twitter posting. FlyDubai’s Boeing jet was delivered in 2011, it said.

Boeing was aware of the incident and was gathering further details, the planemaker said in an e-mailed statement.

The 737 is the workhorse of the global airline fleet and the single- aisle jet is Boeing’s biggest source of profit.

The United Arab Emirates’ civil aviation authority has sent representatives and advisers to work closely with the Russian authorities to conduct the investigation with international standards, Saif Mohamad Al Suwaidi, director-general of the regulatory body, said.

FlyDubai, owned by the government of Dubai, is one of two no-frills airlines in the United Arab Emirates.

It began operations in 2009 and currently has an all-Boeing fleet of 50 aircraft with a network of about 90 destinations.

The airline flies out of Terminal 2 in Dubai International Airport and the emirates’ second hub Al Maktoum International Airport.

It competes with Sharjah-based Air Arabia in the U.A.E.

Last year a FlyDubai aircraft touched down in Baghdad with damage to its fuselage suggesting gunfire.

There were no fatalities or serious injuries and the airline suspended flights to the Iraqi capital during the investigation.

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The year 2015 was pronounced one of the safest years for airlines globally by the International Air Transport Association.

The number of fatal accidents fell by two thirds last year, excluding more than 300 deaths resulting from a pilot suicide and possible terror attack.

There were four fatal accidents, all involving turboprop aircraft, in 2015, down from 12 a year earlier, IATA said in February.

These killed 136 people. The 374 dead passengers and crew from the crash of Germanwings 9525 by a suicidal pilot and Metrojet 9268 on suspected terrorism have been excluded because they are classified as deliberate acts of unlawful interference, the group said.


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