Dubai-based low-cost carrier flydubai suffered its first fatal accident at the weekend when one of its B737-800s crashed on landing at Russia’s Rostov-on-Don airport, killing all 62 people aboard.
The plane, Flight FZ981, was carrying 55 passengers – including four children – and a crew of six when it crashed in bad weather on the edge of the runway at Rostov, one of the biggest airports in southern Russia.
The pilot was making a second attempt to land in dense fog and strong winds. The Aviation Herald reported that the plane had been in a holding pattern for about two hours before it made its final, fatal approach in winds gusting to 42 knots (78 kph). On touchdown, the aircraft struck a wing on the runway, “broke up, came to a rest near the end and to the right of the runway and burst into flames”, the authoritative aviation publication reported.
The plane had been in the air for over six hours. The usual flight time is closer to four hours, but the long hold extended it. The aircraft was carrying enough fuel to fly 8.5 hours, the Aviation Herald reported.
Initial reports suggested passengers were Russians returning from holidays in the United Arab Emirates, but 11 non-Russians were later said to be among them.
Flydubai said in a statement there were 44 Russian passengers aboard, eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one Uzbek. A report on Russian-based website LifeNews said the plane’s captain was from Cyprus, the co-pilot Spanish and the crew were from Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and the Seychelles.
Flydubai was formed in March 2008 by the Government of Dubai. The Government of Dubai also owns Emirates Airline, however, the common ownership is the only connection between the two airlines, Wikipedia notes.
Flydubai operates to 95 destinations, serving the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe from Dubai.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to the relatives and loved ones of those killed in the crash.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) issued the following statement:
UNWTO is deeply saddened by the news of the accident of Flydubai flight FZ981 in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. On behalf of the international tourism community, UNWTO expresses its sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
“It was with great sorrow that we heard the news of this tragedy and express our heartfelt solidarity with the families and friends of the passengers at this most difficult time”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
Written by Peter Needham