Flydubai Boeing 737NG crashed in Rostov-on-Don
Flydubai Boeing 737-800 crashed on landing at the airport of Rostov-on-Don (ROV), in Southern Russia, at 3.50 am local time (00:50 GMT) this morning. The airline confirmed that the flight FZ981 departed from Dubai International (DXB) at 18:20 GMT on March 18 with 55 passengers and 7 crew members onboard. The nationalities of the deceased passengers include 44 Russians, 8 Ukrainians, 2 Indians and 1 Uzbekistani.
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Relief reported that the aircraft crashed during the second landing attempt. The ministry confirmed the aircraft received extreme impact damage at the beginning of the runway. The airport of Rostov-on-Don is closed today.
The plane’s flight path, as tracked by Flight Radar 24, shows the plane spent nearly two hours making a number of turns near the Rostov-on-Don airport prior to the final attempted landing.
This is believed to be the first flight accident with fatalities for flydubai. This lowcost carrier was set up by the government of Dubai, UAE, and started operations in summer 2009. It fleet consisted of 50 Boeing 737-800 narrowbody aircraft.
The airline serves 89 regular destinations in 43 countries. It flies from Dubai directly to 10 Russian cities: Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Krasnodar, Mineralnye Vody, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara and Ufa. The flights to Rostov-on-Don were launched in October 2013.
Flydubai carried 9.04 million passengers in 2015, by almost 25% more than in the previous year. Nevertheless, the airline reported that the number of passengers carried on the Russian flights decreased by 22% last year.
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10 minutes before Flydubai Flight 981 was cleared for its first attempt to land, S7 Airlines Flight 1159 and Ural Airlines Flight 2758 landed successfully at Rostov-on-Don Airport. 12 minutes after Flydubai Flight 981’s first aborted landing after which it went into a holding pattern, Aeroflot Flight 1166 from Moscow Sheremetyevo made the first of three unsuccessful attempts to land at Rostov within the next 35 minutes before diverting to the nearby Krasnodar Airport, landing successfully there.
According to ATC communications published online, before the aircraft was established on the localiser, the instrument which indicates the center line of the runway when pilots are landing using instruments rather than visually, pilots reported to ATC that in case they would need to make another go-around, they would climb to flight level 80 (2,400 m).
They then reported that they were established on the localiser and continued their descent. At 5.5 km before the runway threshold, when the aircraft was at 450 m, it started climbing again. ATC records appeared to show that the aircraft was going around moments before it crashed. The pilots reported their intention to abort the landing with “Going around, Skydubai 981”. ATC advised Flydubai Flight 981 to switch to another air traffic controller (“Skydubai 981, contact Rostov Radar on 121.2”). Flight 981 acknowledged this with “121.2, bye-bye”, which was their final transmission.
After aborting its second approach, at an altitude of 1,230 m, Flydubai Flight 981 began a rapid descent with a vertical speed reaching more than 105 m/s and crashed and completely disintegrated about 250m short of the runway.
The pilot has flown at least three different circles trying to reorient to the runway – possibly due to”disorientation”.
Changing the “pilot flying” (PF) and “pilot monitoring” (PM) roles after the first missed approach has the advantage of the second approach being conducted by a “fresh” set of hands and mitigates the effect of the tunnel vision that often occurs after failed to land at the first attempt.
A manually flown go-around in night / Instrument meteorological conditions and light weight can produce an inner ear acceleration illusion known as somatogravic /vestibular illusion. Longitudinal acceleration can be falsely sensed by the pilots as an extreme pitch-up. The sensation can be overwhelming and cause pilots to ignore other sensory inputs, forcing the aircraft into a dive. This was a cause factor in
the Gulf Air Flight 072 – Airbus A320 accident in Bahrain almost 16 years ago,
the Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771-Airbus A330 crash in Tripoli almost 6 years ago and
Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363-Boeing 737-500 crash in Kazan 2 years ago.
Similarly several US military jets were also lost during the early days of jet aircraft catapult launches from US aircraft carriers. Since instinct to push during the acceleration is uncontrollable, it is very important to have the right hand OFF the “joy-stick” during the launch.
A Boeing 737-800 “pilot flying” (PF) could inadvertently apply pressure to the control column, trip the auto flight system into CWS (Control Wheel Steering), without noticing and the pilot’s continued pressure on the stick could result in >20 degree dive.