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Pilots belly-landed A321 in suburban cornfield with clockwork precision, says expert

The crew managed to timely shut down the engines and stop the fuel feed, the expert stated

YEKATERINBURG, August 15. /TASS/. The pilots of the Ural Airlines passenger jet A321, which belly-landed their aircraft in a field outside Moscow on Thursday morning, displayed remarkable skill, acting with "clockwork precision," Russia’s honorary pilot, retired Lieutenant-General Viktor Sevostyanov told TASS in an interview.

"They did everything right. First, they spotted a strip of land. Second, they kept the landing gear up. This is a categorical requirement — to belly-land the plane. An attempt to land on a field with landing gear down is a sure way to cause the plane fall apart and catch fire," said Sevostyanov, a military pilot with a 30-year record of service in the Air Force.

The passenger jet’s captain Damir Yusupov and co-pilot Georgy Murzin managed to land their plane on a farm field near Zhukovsky after both engines went dead following a collision with a flock of birds.

Keeping right speed during descent

Sevostyanov praised the crew for shutting down the engines and stopping the fuel feed.

"This is essential for preventing fire, which was avoided in this case," he noted.

What made the landing very difficult, among other, was that the proper speed was to be maintained by means of descent.

"Air crews practice the skill of flying a plane with engines off regularly. Particularly so in the Air Force. Planes are landed with just one or three engines turned on. In this particular situation there was no time to think. The pilots displayed great professional skill. It was a very skillful landing. Such words of praise are quite appropriate. It was a no easy job to keep the plane under control," Sevostyanov underscored.

What makes a belly landing different from an ordinary one is the proper moment when the plane is to be steered into the horizontal position.

"Air pilots are accustomed to a different feeling. When they make a gear-down landing, the way they see the runway at the moment of touchdown is different. In this case they had to be aware of that and not to keep the plane at an altitude of two or three meters for too long. Otherwise they would have lost speed and crashed," Sevostyanov said.

Belly landing

On Thursday morning, a passenger jet A321 of the Ural Airlines left Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airport for Simferopol only to make a belly landing on a farm field in the Ramenskoye District of the Moscow Region after a collision with a flock of seagulls. The air carrier said both of the plane’s engines went dead. There were more than 230 people on board. The Health Ministry reported no casualties. Twenty three people, including nine children, were hurt. One woman remains in hospital. All others were allowed to go home.

The Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case under Part 1 of Article 263 of the Criminal Code (violation of traffic and aircraft operation safety rules).