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Flydubai to resume flights to Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday

Data from flight recorders recovered, official says

Image Credit: Reuters
A view of the Rostov-on-Don airport. The airport reopened yesterday after shutting operations following the crash, which left a crater in its runway and scattered debris over 1.5 kilometres.
Gulf News

Dubai: Flydubai will resume flights to the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday just three days after one of its aircraft fatally crashed at the airport there killing all 62 on board.

The Boeing 737-800, operated by flydubai from Dubai International, exploded on its second attempt to land at the Rostov-on-Don airport in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Flights to Rostov-on-Don will resume from Tuesday, a flydubai spokesperson told Gulf News by email on Monday.

The airline’s website on Monday showed scheduled flights to the Russian city on Tuesday and Friday. The same schedule prior to the crash.

There had been hesitation over when flights would resume as the airport was immediately closed following Saturday’s crash. Flydubai chief executive Gaith Al Gaith told reporters in Dubai on Sunday the airline intended to resume flights but a decision would only be made after the airport reopens.

The Russian airport reopened on Monday but only after a lengthy clean-up of the crash debris.


Infographic: Deciphering the black box


“The airport is now fully functional,” an airport representative told AFP on Monday.

Outbound flights resumed at 10.30 UAE time on Monday though incoming flights were either delayed or cancelled, AFP reported.

The airport was forced to close after the impact of the crash left a crater in its runway and pulverised the plane scattering parts up to 1.5 kilometres from the crash site.

Data from the two flight recorders was successfully downloaded on Monday, a spokesperson for the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) told Gulf News on Monday. The spokesperson could not say whether the data has been analysed. A team from the GCAA and flydubai are in Russia assisting Russian and French authorities in the probe. The flight was equipped with French-made engines.

Investigators will be hoping the data will provide some insight into what went wrong in what is the worst aviation disaster involving an airline from the UAE.

But Russian officials have warned that the recorders are so “badly damaged” that it could take up to a month to analyse the data.

“In favourable circumstances, we will get preliminary results in a month,” Sergei Zaiko, deputy chairman of the committee, told Russian state television on Monday, according to The Associated Press.

Experts were unable to immediately read the data because of the damage to the recorders, Zaiko said.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday ordered his government to look at the reasons behind the crash and amend Russian regulations on flight safety if necessary, RIA news agency reported according to Reuters.

“If there are some technological issues, then they should be analysed and, at the conclusion of that analysis, proposals should be made to the government so that some amendments can be made to technical equipment, if that’s needed, or to the rules that exist in the sphere of aviation in our country,” the agency reportedly quoted Medvedev as saying.

There were 55 passengers on board the flydubai flight, mostly Russian tourists, and 7 crew members. Al Gaith has defended the pilot’s decision to try and land at the airport in reported heavy rain and strong winds.

“The airport was open. It was good enough to operate and it was good enough to land as per the authorities,” he said on Saturday.

The pilots had previously flown to the Russian airport and were very experienced, Al Gaith said. The pilot and co-pilot had logged about 5,900 and 5,700 flight hours respectively.

But questions have been asked as to why the pilots did not divert to a neighbouring airport. The flight failed to land on its first attempt and circled in a holding pattern for two hours for the fatal second attempt

Three other airlines scheduled to land around the same time diverted to other airports. Russia’s Aeroflot attempted to land three times before it diverted to Krasnodar, about 275 kilometres away. Czech Airlines also diverted to Krasnodar, while Turkish Airlines returned to Istanbul.

Emirates told Gulf News on Monday it has been assisting flydubai following the accident.

“Emirates has activated some of our staff to provide flydubai with humanitarian and contact centre support. It is common industry practice for airlines to have agreements in place for the provision of humanitarian or other operational support during serious aircraft incidents,” an Emirates spokesperson said in a statement.

Citing Russian investigators, AP reported on Monday that experts from Emirates are also assisting with the inquiry into the crash.

Emirates and flydubai are both owned by the government of Dubai and share the same chairman, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

Flydubai returning to Rostov-on-Don with new flight number

Flydubai is retiring the number of the flight that crashed in Russia on Saturday killing all 62 on board “as a mark of respect.”

Flight FZ981 crashed and exploded into a fireball attempting to land at Rostov-on-Don over the weekend in what is the worst aviation disaster involving an airline from the UAE.

The Dubai-based airline will no longer use flight number 981, a spokesperson told Gulf News by email on Monday

It will now use flight number 935 on the twice weekly Dubai to Rostov-on-Don from Tuesday when it resumes services, the spokesperson said.

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