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CIS aviation watchdog reconstructs last minutes of FlyDubai crash in south Russia

April 08, 13:11 UTC+3 MOSCOW
It remains unknown why the crew decided against flying to a reserve aerodrome
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© Valeriy Matytsin/TASS

MOSCOW, April 8. /TASS/. The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) announced on Friday the preliminary results of a probe into the recent crash of a Boeing airliner in Rostov-on-Don in south Russia.

Airline FlyDubai’s Boeing 737-800 crashed at Rostov-on-Don’s airport in the small hours on March 19 during a second attempt to land in complicated weather conditions of strong side wind and rain. The plane served regular Flight FZ 981 from Dubai. The passenger jet capable of carrying 189 passengers had 62 people aboard, including the crew. None has survived.

More than 2 hours passed between the crew’s two attempts to land. It remains unknown why the crew decided against flying to a reserve aerodrome.

Two-dimensional aircraft mockup

The Interstate Aviation Committee said on its website it was providing upgrade on the progress of the investigation of the accident involving a Boeing 737-800 registered A6-FDN operated by FlyDubai.

"The investigative team has completed the two-dimensional aircraft mockup and selected assemblies and units to be examined in order to check the longitudinal control system operability," the aviation watchdog said in a statement.

"The selected units have been delivered to the Interstate Aviation Committee, wherein their condition is assessed along with examination capabilities. The organizations to conduct pertinent examinations as well as their scope and terms are being determined," the statement said.

Landing in a manual mode

The weather information examination has showed that the actual weather at Rostov-on-Don Airport at the time of the accident "was consistent with the weather forecast," the statement said.

"The weather measuring equipment used for weather observations at Rostov-on-Don Airport was calibrated, operable and functional," it said.

The weather information service provided to the FlyDubai Boeing 737-800 was in compliance with the applicable regulations and manuals, the aviation watchdog said.

"A preliminary flight data analysis has revealed that the crew was approaching to land manually (autopilot disconnected) in difficult weather conditions (cloud base 630 meters, wind 230 degrees 13 meters per second maximum 18 meters per second, light shower rain, mist, severe turbulence on straight-on and moderate windshear)," the Interstate Aviation Committee said.

In the course of the initial approach at a height of 340 meters, after getting a windshear (abrupt change in wind speed and direction) alert, the crew decided to go around and then continued on holding pattern waiting for improved weather conditions, the aviation watchdog said.

As the crew were proceeding with another manual approach, they decided to go around again at a height of 220 meters (4 km before the runway) and initiated climb, setting the engine to takeoff thrust, it said.

"At a height of 900 m there was a simultaneous control column nose down input and stabilizer 5-degree nose down deflection, resulting in abrupt descent with negative vertical acceleration of -1g. The following crew actions to recover did not allow to avoid an impact with the ground. The impact occurred with a speed of over 600 km/h over 50 degrees nose down," the aviation watchdog’s statement said.

Pilots underwent required training

According to the available information, the involved pilots were holding valid pilot licenses and other pertinent papers, had undergone required training and had sufficient flight experience, the aviation watchdog said.

Currently works are underway at the IAC facilities to reproduce the circumstances of the accident. Both airline pilots and test-pilots from Russia, the USA and the UAE have been engaged in the investigation to assess the status and actions of the crew, the Interstate Aviation Committee said.

Work continues to decipher flight recorders

Right now the transcript of two hours of cockpit voice recorder data is being completed, the aviation watchdog said.

"The investigative team is planning to engage investigators from the UAE, the USA and Spain to proceed at the IAC laboratory with clarifying the content of the CVR transcript, translating it from English and Spanish and identifying the speakers," it said.

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