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Russian miracle landing eclipsed Rome hot-metal takeoff

August 20, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The brilliantly skilful landing of a passenger plane in a Russian cornfield last week, after both engines failed, received rather more publicity than another strange incident, in which a B787 Dreamliner showered Rome residents with a storm of glowing hot metal, setting a man’s shirt on fire.

IN THE FIRST INCIDENT, an Airbus A321 carrying 233 people on a domestic flight made an emergency crash landing in a cornfield near Moscow two minutes after takeoff, after striking a flock of seagulls.

The incident serves as a reminder that four-engine planes like the B747 and the A380 can lose two engines and still have two in reserve. Lose power from both engines in a two-engine plane (such as the A321) and… the arithmetic is simple.

Twenty-three people were hurt in the incident, in which the plane landed with its engines shut down and landing gear retracted.

The landing was superb.

Plane down in cornfield

State media dubbed the landing the “miracle over Ramensk”. The Ural Airlines Airbus 321 was travelling to Simferopol in Crimea when it hit the flock of gulls. The plane was written off.

“We congratulate the hero pilots who saved people’s lives,” a Kremlin spokesman said, adding the Kremlin would see the men were quickly given state honours.

Collisions between birds and planes are a common occurrence in aviation but few are serious – for the planes, anyway. 

IN THE SECOND INCIDENT, a Norwegian B787-8 Dreamliner flight to Los Angeles struck major engine problems shortly after takeoff from Rome. Part of one engine disintegrated, sending hundreds of glowing hot metal shards, measuring up to 20cm, raining “like bullets” on people below, smashing car windows.

“It was a storm of steel and iron,” a horrified resident told the Il Messaggero newspaper. “I screamed and ran into the house.”

Damage to police car from 787 engine parts

Britain’s Independent quoted a witness: “They were like bullets. My shirt was on fire.”

Cars and houses in the Isola Sacra area south of Rome were damaged.

The plane, carrying 298 passengers, turned back to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport. The Aviation Herald reported that the engine was a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000. Italy’s aviation investigation bureau ordered an immediate operational inspection and will investigate what it describes as “a serious incident”.

Written by Peter Needham

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