Hurricane force winds may have caused Saturday’s tragic FlyDubai plane crash according to Russian authorities. The Boeing 737-800 was en route to the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don from Dubai when tragedy struck during the wee hours of dawn. All 62 passengers on board including seven crew members have perished in the fateful incident.
According to Russian sources, a list of victims was published on a Regional government website. Rostov’s governor Vasily Golubev has blamed “strong winds” for the crash, while confirming that a preliminary probe into the cause of the accident has been initiated.
“By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level.”
Initial reports from the Russian Investigative Committee have confirmed that the aircraft’s black boxes, carrying the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder have been recovered. In a statement on its website, the agency has listed pilot error, technical malfunction and inclement weather as probable factors that may have triggered the crash. Dubai Aviation Corporation’s FlyDubai, is a government-owned budget airline operating from Dubai’s International Airport. According to passenger statistics released by the airline, 44 passengers were Russian, eight were Ukrainian, two were Indian and one was a citizen of Uzbekistan.
Russian authorities said the crash occurred at 3:42 a.m. after the plane had attempted a second landing following an abandoned first approach amid ominous weather conditions. Upon its second approach, the aircraft plummeted to the ground and instantly burst into flames on impact scattering the debris over a very large area. Safety experts suspect that wind-shear may have contributed to the crash. Wind shear is a phenomenon described as a sudden or rapid change in winds over a short horizontal distance experienced by aircraft, leading to a rapid and potentially dangerous change in the aircraft’s altitude.
According to another report, two other planes had landed just moments prior to FlyDubai’s attempt to touch down, while another local carrier had diverted to another airport following several unsuccessful landing attempts. The FlyDubai flight had apparently assumed a holding pattern continuously circling the airport for hours prior to attempting the fatal descent.
The incident marks one of the worst airline disasters in recent times. Earlier in February, an Alaska Airlines flight declared an emergency and landed in Washington after reporting cockpit smoke. Fortunately, the plane landed safely and no fatalities or injuries were reported. In the same month, American Airlines Flight 564 departing from California, and heading to Phoenix, completed a safe emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport after reporting an on-board emergency.
In another unfortunate incident, a passenger was ejected out of the aircraft at about 11,000 feet when a Daallo Airlines flight D3159 en route from Mogadishu, Somalia to Djibouti, experienced structural failure owing to a possible on-board explosion. Two other passengers were seriously injured in the incident but the aircraft landed safely at the airport of origin. All seven crew members survived. The tragic disaster follows another deadly event involving a Russian jet carrying 224 people from Egypt to St. Petersburg in October that crashed into the Sinai desert killing everyone on board.
In a recent statement issued on its website, the airline said its immediate priority was to extend all possible care and respect to the families of the passengers and crew of the flight.
“At present, our priority is to identify and contact the families of those lost in today’s tragic accident and provide immediate support to those affected. Flydubai will additionally organize a program of hardship payments to the families amounting to USD 20,000 per passenger, in accordance with our Conditions of Carriage, with the aim of addressing immediate financial needs.”
In a press conference, the chairman added that the captain had 5,900 hours of flying experience, the first officer 5,700 hours. FlyDubai have dispatched an emergency response team to Rostov to assist families and to assist in the investigation.
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