A Ural Airlines flight carrying 226 passengers and seven crew members was forced to perform an emergency landing in a field in Novosibirsk Region, Russia, on Tuesday morning. The plane, an Airbus A321, was en route from Moscow to Simferopol, Crimea, when it encountered a flock of birds shortly after takeoff. The birds damaged both engines, causing them to lose thrust and power.
The pilot, Damir Yusupov, managed to land the plane safely in a cornfield about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Zhukovsky International Airport, where the flight had departed. He did not deploy the landing gear to reduce the impact and avoid fire. All passengers and crew members were evacuated from the plane using inflatable slides. No serious injuries were reported, although some people suffered bruises and cuts.
The Russian authorities praised Yusupov and his co-pilot Georgy Murzin for their professionalism and heroism. They said they would award them with state honors for saving the lives of the people on board. Yusupov, 41, is a former lawyer who switched careers to become a pilot. He has been working for Ural Airlines since 2013.
The incident was reminiscent of the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson”, when US Airways Flight 1549 landed on the Hudson River in New York after hitting a flock of geese. The pilot of that flight, Chesley Sullenberger, also received widespread acclaim for his skillful landing.
The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal probe into the violation of air traffic safety rules. It said it would examine the technical condition of the plane, the qualifications of the crew, and the circumstances of the bird strike. Ural Airlines said it would cooperate with the investigation and provide all necessary assistance to the passengers.