The heroic pilot of a Russian jet that safely crash-landed in a cornfield carrying 233 passengers after gulls got sucked into its engines climbed back into the plane to call his wife after checking the damage.
Captain Damir Yusupov brought the Ural Airlines Flight U1678 down in a cornfield today with no power in either engine and with the landing gear retracted.
An engine fire on board forced the 41-year-old to land the plane in a field near Zhukovsky International Airport in Moscow shortly after take-off.
Speaking to the media this evening, Captain Yusupov told how not long after the dramatic landing he got back into the cockpit and called his wife to tell her what happened.
The jet was taking off from the airport at 6.10am local time bound for Simferopol in Crimea when it suffered a double bird strike, causing one engine to burst into flames and the other to stop working.
He radioed the airport asking to make an emergency landing but was forced to ditch into a cornfield a mile away after realising he was not going to make it.
The 41-year-old was hailed as a hero for safely landing the aircraft without any fatalities and leaving 23 people with only minor injuries.
The crew of the Russian Ural Airlines’ Airbus A321 plane during a press briefing following a hard landing near Zhukovsky International Airport due to an engine fire today
Captain Damir Yusupov of the Russian Ural Airlines’ Airbus A321 plane was hailed a hero for landing near Zhukovsky International Airport after birds got sucked into the plane’s engines
Airbus A321 plane co-pilot Georgy Murzin (second left), Ural Airlines operational director Alexander Zinovyev (second right) emerge to speak to the media
Flight attendants and pilots that were uninjured after the dramatic landing spoke to Russian media today just hours after the Airbus A321 plane crash-landed in a cornfield shortly after take off
In total, 23 of the 226 passengers and seven crew on board were sent to hospital for minor injuries, though only one – a 69-year-old woman – required further treatment.
The Emergencies Ministry said that 74 people asked for medical assistance after the incident. Health authorities said 23 people, including five children, were taken to the hospital, but all but one were released following check-ups.
Russian media immediately began comparing the crash to the Miracle on the Hudson, dubbing it the ‘miracle over Ramensk’.
Pilot Chesley Sullenberger successfully landed a plane on New York’s Hudson River in 2009 after hitting a flock of geese. All 155 people aboard the US Airways Airbus A320 were rescued by nearby boats with few serious injuries.
Captain Yusupov, who reportedly received treatment in hospital after the crash, told the Russian media he did not consider himself a hero and that he initially thought he would have to return to the airport until the second engine failed.
He said: ‘Engine power was not enough to continue the flight, even to maintain the altitude that we had occupied by that time.
‘The height was not significant. Initially, there was a decision to turn around, land the plane, but when I saw that the second engine also failed.
‘There was little time. But when they saw that the second engine was also failing, I had a decision – to land the plane just in front of me.
‘After the evacuation of passengers I got out, went around the plane, examined the external damage, made sure that everything was at a safe distance. I returned to the cockpit and from there called my wife.
‘Many people say that I am a hero, but to be honest, I don’t feel like a hero at all, because I did what I had to do: saved the plane, passengers, crew.’
video footage and released by Russian Investigative Committee, shows the Ural Airlines Airbus 321 passenger plane after in landed in a field after an engine fire and without its landing gear deployed
Captain Damir Yusupov of the Russian Ural Airlines’ Airbus A321 plane gives a press briefing just hours after the dramatic landing in a cornfield near Zhukovsky International Airport
Ural Airlines operational director Alexander Zinovyev (left), Captain Damir Yusupov (right) of the Russian Ural Airlines’ Airbus A321 plane speak to the Russian media today
Ural Airlines Flight U1678 was taking off from Moscow’s Zhukovsky airport for Simferopol, in Crimea, when it hit the birds during takeoff. The pilot began to climb before the engines failed, tried to circle back around to the airport but had to land in a nearby field after losing power. Luckily nobody was seriously hurt
Passengers of the Russian Ural Airlines’ plane that made a hard landing near Zhukovsky International Airport, during check-in for an extra flight to Simferopol, at Domodedovo International Airport today
He also told reporters he had practised what to do in the event of an emergency landing simulations many times.
Captain Yusupov added: ‘Therefore, we were mentally and professionally prepared. We have a simulator in Yekaterinburg, our own school for training flight personnel, thanks to these skills we were able to successfully land the plane.’
Flight attendant Nadezhda Vershinina said that during the evacuation the crew acted according to the instructions, adding: ‘We work out such situations on simulators, there were no surprises.’
Russia’s Rosaviatsiya state aviation agency chief, Alexander Neradko, said the plane was fully loaded with 16 tonnes of jet fuel.
He told Russian media the crew ‘made the only right decision’ to immediately land the fully loaded plane with its wheels up after both of its engines malfunctioned.
He added: ‘The crew has shown courage and professionalism and deserve the highest state awards. Just imagine what the consequences would be if the crew didn’t make the correct decision.’
Yusupov’s wife told Rossiya state television from their home in Yekaterinburg that he called her after landing, before she had heard about the emergency.
‘He called me and said: ”Everything is fine, everyone is alive”,’ she said. ‘I asked what was it, and he said that birds hit the engine and we landed in a field. I was horrified and in panic and burst into tears.’
Passengers on board the Ural Airlines Flight reported seeing ‘a flash and then a smell of smoke’ as one of the engines caught fire, before the second also stopped working.
‘It all happened in a few seconds… We took off and came back down,’ passenger Irina Usacheva told state television channel Rossiya 24.
The airline said Yusupov, the son of a helicopter pilot, is an experienced pilot who has logged over 3,000 flight hours. Yusupov worked as a lawyer before he changed course and joined a flight school when he was 32. A father of four, he has flown with Ural Airlines since his graduation in 2013. He became a captain last year.
A Ural Airlines jet carrying 226 passengers and seven crew crash landed in a Russian cornfield Thursday morning after a flock of birds got sucked into the engines during takeoff
Rescuers help passengers of an Airbus A321 plane of the Ural Airlines that has made a hard landing in a field near Zhukovsky International Airport due to an engine fire
Miracle in a cornfield: Captain Damir Yusupov of the Russian Ural Airlines’ Airbus A321 plane ahead of a press briefing today
The plane was heading from Moscow to Simferopol, the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea, which is a popular summer destination for families when it came crashing down
Passenger Svetlana Babina said the bird strike could be heard from inside the plane and that the engines started making ‘strange noises’.
‘We have to pay tribute to the pilot, in the circumstances he landed as softly as possible,’ she told the RIA Novosti news agency.
‘Everyone is alive! The pilot is a genius,’ passenger Olga told tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, saying applause broke out following the landing.
‘The crew of the Ural Airlines flight showed fantastic skill and cool-headedness,’ said Yevgeny Kuyvashev, the governor of Yusupov’s home region, adding: ‘He and his team saved 233 lives. They are heroes.’
An extraordinary drone video from channel NTV shows plane in the cornfield after the accident.
The footage shows how the captain and his copilot Georgiy Murzin, 23, used the field to act as a brake, despite the terrifying risk of the aircraft’s fuel tanks bursting into flames.
After the evacuation, passengers rushed to embrace and thank Yusupov and his flight attendants who helped them exit the stricken Airbus.
Bird strikes on planes occur regularly around the world even though airports use bird distress signals, air cannons and other means to chase birds away from runways. Plane engines are designed to withstand occasional bird strikes but a collision with a flock of birds can result in serious trouble.
It’s rare for bird strikes to knock out both engines but pilots do prepare for this, said John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He said the Ural Airlines pilot probably knew in advance that a farm field was near the airport.
In total, 23 people received minor injuries during the crash, but only one person – a 69-year-old woman – required further treatment after being taken to hospital
Passengers reported seeing a flash and smoke coming from one engine, while the other one could be heard shutting off
Russia’s air transport agency said the plane came down with both engines out of action and the landing gear retracted, before skidding to a halt in the field
Emergency vehicles surround the plane, having flattened down the corn to provide better access to the crash site
Drone images of the crash site shows how the plane cut through the field before coming to a stop
Hero pilot Damir Yusupov (left) is seen sitting in the cockpit of the crashed aircraft, next to a member of Russia’s air crash investigations committee (right)
Terrifying moment birds were sucked into passenger jet’s engines as it took off
This is the moment a flock of birds was sucked into the engines of a Russian passenger jet as it took off in Moscow, causing both of them to shut down.
Terrifying footage captured by a passenger on board the Ural Airlines Flight U1678 shows birds streaking across the runway, before the plane’s engines can be heard struggling.
Moments later, Captain Damir Yusupov lost all thrust and was radioed Zhukovsky airport asking to come back and make an emergency landing.
But, realising he was not going to make it, he instead chose to ditch into a cornfield a mile away, with no landing gear and both jets out of commission.
Miraculously, all 226 passengers and seven crew walked away from the accident, with only 23 people suffering nono-life-threatening injuries.
Captain Yusupov has been hailed as a hero, while an investigation into the crash has been launched.
Five children were among the injured after the plane crashed around 1 mile from the airport
People make their way out of the field towards a line of waiting ambulances following the crash early on Thursday
Passengers from the Ural Airlines plane make their way through Zhukovsky International Airport after being rescued from the field following the ‘miracle’ landing
The plane was going to Simferopol, the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea, which is a popular holiday destination, meaning there were many families and young children on board (pictured left)
Members of the Russian Investigative Committee surround the aircraft in the corn field, which is located around a mile away from the airport where it took off
Experts have suggested that illegal dumping sites close to some of Russia’s biggest airports have been attracting birds, which contributed to the crash
Air crash investigators at the site of the downed plane on Thursday, around a mile from Moscow’s Zhukovsky airport
A view shows the Ural Airlines Airbus 321 passenger plane following an emergency landing in a field near Zhukovsky International Airport
An investigation into the causes of the crash has been launched, with experts suggesting that illegal dumping sites near Moscow’s airports have attracted flocks of birds
Captain Damir Yusupov, 41, was hailed as a hero after he managed to bring the plane down without any engine power or landing gear and without causing any major injuries
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also hailed the ‘hero pilots’ who landed the plane.
‘The plane’s passengers and crew remained alive, we wish a speedy recovery to those injured, and congratulations to the hero pilots who saved lives and landed the plane,’ Peskov said.
Russia’s investigative committee said it had opened a probe into the incident.
A teenage boy passenger who was streaming a report from the field where the plane landed said: ‘I am from a plane that came down.
‘We were taking off from Zhukovsky, and some five seconds after were were off the ground, the plane began to shake in a very strong way.
‘In another five seconds the lights on the right side of the plane started flashing and we felt the smell of smoke.
‘Then the plane landed and everyone rushed out. All is good.’
Ural Airlines press service said: ‘While taking off from Zhukovsky airport, multiple birds got into the engines of the plane of the flight U6178.
‘The plane had an emergency landing. The crew and passengers were not hurt.’
The plane was packed with tourists en route to Simferopol, capital of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.
A later report from the Emergencies ministry said 10 people were injured during emergency landing.
A witness on the ground said: ‘I was going fishing when I saw the plane falling down. It did hit the ground when landing, and there was smoke visible, not fire, just smoke.
‘I stopped a bit away from it and immediately called all the emergency services. Then I drove close and saw people coming out.’
The plane had been flying to Simferopol, the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea, a popular summer destination for many Russians.
Zhukovsky, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Moscow city centre, opened in 2016 as Moscow’s fourth international airport. A Soviet-era test flight centre, it hosts the biennial MAKS international aviation show.
Hero pilot has only been flying as a captain for a year, his ‘proud’ family reveals
Captain Damir Yusupov, who crash-landed the plane
Captain Damir Yusupov, 41, who safely crash-landed a passenger plane with 233 people on board Thursday, had only been flying as a primary pilot for a year before the accident, his proud family has revealed.
Artur Yusupov, 32, Damir’s brother, said he had initially trained as a lawyer before giving that life up a decade ago to pursue his dream of being an airline pilot.
Artur told how Damir graduated with top-class honours from a flying school eight years ago, flying as a co-pilot until last year, when he graduated to captain.
On Thursday, Damir was at the controls when Ural Airlines Flight U1678 suffered a bird strike in both engines during takeoff in Moscow.
With no engine power, Damir radioed the airport and asked to make an emergency landing, before being forced to ditch the aircraft into a field after he realised he wasn’t going to make it.
All 233 people on board walked away from the scene of the crash with only minor injuries.
It was also revealed that Damir is married with two children. Wife Natalia said: ‘I was in panic, with tears – my little child tried to calm me down, saying ‘Mummy, don’t cry!’
‘He was growing up in this atmosphere since his childhood. He dreamed of flying, of the sky.’
Russian media immediately began comparing the crash to 2009’s Miracle on the Hudson, when pilot Chesley Sullenberger successfully landed a jet with 155 passengers on board on the Hudson River after hitting a flock of geese
Ural Airlines Airbus 321 passenger plane following an emergency landing in a field near Zhukovsky Airport in Moscow
A member of the crew uses a loudspeaker to marshal passengers off the stricken plane after it came to rest in the field
Emergency slides which were used to evacuate passengers from the aircraft after it had skidded to a halt
Several experts pointed to a growing problem of birds gathering at illegal dumping sites close to Moscow’s airports.
‘The problem with birds is enormous,’ aviation safety expert Alexander Romanov told RIA Novosti. ‘It comes from, among other things, landfills that are scattered in violation of all regulations.’
Residents close to Zhukovsky said an illegal landfill was located between the airport and the Moscow river and that seagulls gathered constantly there.
Russia was once notorious for plane accidents but its air traffic safety record has improved in recent years.
The last major accident was in May, when a Sukhoi Superjet belonging to national carrier Aeroflot crash-landed and burst into flames at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, killing 41 people.
The plane, bound for the Arctic city of Murmansk, turned around after being struck by lightning, bounced on the runway on landing and caught fire.
Ambulances, a medical helicopter and passing vehicles stop to help after a passenger plane crashed near Moscow’s Zhukovsky airport
Russian police officers stand guard near the site of the crash on Thursday morning
Witnesses said one of the engines burst into flames after a bird got sucked inside, before the other one also shut down
An ambulance vehicle by Zhukovsky International Airport after a Ural Airlines plane made a hard landing in a field nearby