Aside from killing all 62 people on board, the crash that devastated FlyDubai Flight FZ981 from the United Arab Emirates that occurred in the early morning of March 19 at southern Russia has also had the plane’s on-board flight recorders damaged “significantly,” according to investigators.
The Boeing 737-800 aircraft under FlyDubai had aborted its initial landing in Rostov-on-Don Airport in Russia and circled for more than two hours amid strong winds and poor visibility before attempting a second landing. That resulted in a disastrous crash about 250 meters (800 feet) from the runway.
The subsequent search operation went underway in temperatures of -5°C and concluded the day after with no survivors found—55 passengers and 7 crew members all perished in the crash. Investigators then moved on to pinpoint the cause of the accident and to identify the bodies, according to officials. The flight recorders—colloquially known as the “black box”—that record both events during flight and the sounds in the cockpit that include conversations between pilots were found in bad condition.
“The received recorders are badly damaged mechanically,” stated Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) on its website along with pictures of the damaged recorders that were on board the doomed FlyDubai plane. “Specialists… have started the inspection, opening and removing the memory modules from the protective casing to restore the interface cables and prepare for data recovery.”
“We have high confidence in the Russian authorities who are capable of managing local conditions for flights,” said FlyDubai’s CEO, Ghaith al-Ghaith, at a news conference in Dubai. “We fully trust the Russian authorities in this.”
FlyDubai is a budget airline that was established in July 2008 and currently owned by the government of Dubai, now operating between 95 destinations. It previously held a perfect safety record, although one of its flights had a scare last year.
Another FlyDubai Boing 737-800 plane with 154 people on board had an incident on January 26, 2015 when it was struck by gunfire while approacing Baghdad International Airport from Dubai. According to officials, the fuselage was hit three to four times by small arms that appeared to be sniper fire from south of the airport. Fortunately, all passengers of that FlyDubai flight were able to disembark unharmed.
As of now, FlyDubai has not canceled or delayed any flights due to the crash.
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