For the second time in less than six months, a passenger jet flying Russians home from a sunny location has crashed with the loss of all on board. Flydubai flight FZ981 had left Dubai at 10.20pm local time on Friday night. The airline says there were 55 passengers and seven crew on board.
The Boeing 737 was scheduled to arrive at Rostov on Don in southern Russia at 1.20am on Saturday. Because of high winds and poor visibility in the vicinity of the airport, the pilots abandoned their first attempt to land.
Radar tracking of the flight path shows the aircraft then flew a series of holding manoeuvres for almost two hours before making a second approach. The plane came down short of the runway, broke up and caught fire. Russia's Emergencies Ministry said one wing had clipped the ground.
Investigators have recovered the flight recorder and say that the aircraft came down due to a technical fault or human error.
The last loss of a Russia-bound flight was on 31 October, when a Metrojet Airbus A321 from Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt crashed in the Sinai desert on a flight to St Petersburg. It is widely believed that the plane was downed by a bomb placed on board at the airport in the Egyptian resort.
There is no indication that terrorism was involved in the Flydubai crash.
In a statement, Flydubai said it was “deeply sorry” to confirm what it described as a “tragic accident”. The chief executive, Ghaith Al Ghaith, said: “We don’t yet know all the details of the accident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish the cause. We are making every effort to care for those affected and will provide assistance to the loved ones of those on board.”
The airline is setting up reception centres for relatives of passengers.
Flydubai is the budget airline owned by the government of Dubai. It began flying in 2009, with a vow “to strive to make air travel more affordable.” Its routes complement, rather than compete with, the Emirates network.
The airline’s short-and mid-haul network covers the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, eastern Europe and north and east Africa.
The jet involved was one of Flydubai’s fleet of 50 Boeing 737-800s, the same aircraft type used by Ryanair. It had been in service for five years. The airline has previously had an unblemished safety record.
Investigators are likely to focus on the pilots' decision to fly a holding pattern rather than divert to an alternative airport.Reuse content