A Ural Airlines Airbus A320 managed to safely land in a grass field after diverting from its intended destination due to a hydraulic issue.
According to reports from The Aviation Herald and BBC Russia, Ural Airlines flight U61383 was performing a scheduled domestic service from Sochi (AER) to Omsk (OMS) on September 12, 2023, carrying 159 passengers and six crew members. The 2004-built Airbus A320-200 recently re-registered as RA-73805 was on final approach into Omsk when the crew decided to perform a go-around around 2,000 feet.
The crew members reported that the green hydraulics system on the aircraft failed, and decided to divert to Novosibirsk (OVB) instead (about 320 nautical miles away). The green hydraulics controls systems including the landing gear, normal brakes, yaw damper 1 system and engine 1 reverser.
The pilots said the 8,205 foot runway at Omsk was too short given that their brakes and engine reverser were impaired. They decided to fly to Novosibirsk instead as the field had perpendicular runways, both considerably longer, measuring in at 11,800+ feet long each.
According to flight log data, the aircraft executed a missed approach and then climbed to 18,000 feet on its way to Novosibirsk. During this portion of the journey, they maintained a relatively slow ground speed, averaging just 260 knots. It was reported that the pilots were forced to maintain a lower altitude as they could not close the landing gear doors. It is unclear if they were able to retract the landing gear (which could add significant drag and increase fuel burn).
Even though the airline claims their fuel calculations should have allowed them to safely arrive at their alternate, the crew had burnt much more fuel than expected due to the combination of the exposed wheel well and strong headwinds. They searched for a grass clearing, landing in a field in Kamenka, less than 100 nautical miles away from Novosibirsk.
Despite the odds, the crew managed to safely land the aircraft in the grass field with the gear down. The airplane did not appear to suffer any critical damage, with only the right side of the fuselage having a blackened appearance. This possibly could have been dirt being blown against the frame from the right engine reverser.
Thankfully no one was injured, with one passenger being treated for a heart condition arising out of the incident. Food and transport were arranged for the displaced passengers, and given the good shape the aircraft was in, the passengers were even able to get their bags.
The West Siberian Investigative Committee has since opened an investigation into the matter, and have put out a preliminary statement linking the incident to technical issues with the aircraft.
While there appear to be more to the matter, and given the tense situation in Russia, it’s unlikely that we will ever get a truly transparent report about the situation. While the pilots should be commended for such an amazing landing given the circumstances, there will be questions as to whether or not it was safe to even consider diverting given that they had added drag issues. I’m no expert on Airbus pressurization systems, so I can’t comment on the viability of a second attempted landing at Omsk.
This is not Ural Airline’s first field encounter. On August 15, 2019, the airline operated flight U6178 from Zhukovsky (ZIA) for Simferopol (SIP) with an Airbus A321-200 (registered VQ-BOZ). Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft flew through a flock of birds, resulting in dual engine failure, forcing the crew to perform a belly landing in a corn field just 3 nautical miles away from the runway.
There were 0 fatalities and 74 reported injuries in that incident. The aircraft suffered sustainable damage, resulting in it being scrapped on site.
[Featured Photo: The Aviation Herald ]