IrAero Sukhoi Superjet 100 Lands On Unfinished Runway In Moscow

An IrAero Superjet 100 has landed on an unfinished runway in Moscow. Fortunately, it landed safely and came to a complete stop with no injuries to passengers or crew. The incident was reported to have taken place on Thursday 16th January at just after 2pm local time.

IrAero Sukhoi Superjet 100 Lands On Unfinished Runway In Moscow
The SSJ landed on a runway that hadn’t been built yet! Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikipedia.

What are the details?

A Sukhoi Superjet 100-95 was coming into Moscow from Sebetta for IrAero flight IO-4284 when the pilots made a mistake, according to Aviation Herald. 

Upon approaching Moscow Domodedovo airport, the pilots requested that they have permission to land and were directed to line up for runway 32R. However, they accidentally lined up for a new runway under construction to the right of the airport.

The flight path of the aircraft. Photo: Flight Radar 24

The plane proceeded to land on the unfinished runway, skirting over the cement concrete construct, tapping down and rolling to a stop. The pilots then became aware of their mistake and shut the aircraft down.

Upon landing, emergency services were deployed to meet the aircraft, but the alarm was called off when the aircraft appeared to be stable and unharmed.

An inspection of the aircraft was performed and passengers were disembarked from the construction site. The aircraft has since been left on the runway.

Fortunately, the runway was in a complete enough state to allow an aircraft to safely land (with no injuries). Maps show the under-construction runway is currently just cement and not reinforced concrete.

The map of the airport. The runway under construction was the furthest to the right. Photo: AIP-Russia

Why did this happen?

The first question that we need to ask ourselves is how did this event occur? How can pilots land on the wrong runway, one that was not even open?

We know that the flight was operating during the day, and the pilots made the landing attempt at around 14:00 PM in the afternoon, so we cannot blame poor visibility.

Rather, perhaps we can blame the labeling of the runways. Including the new runway, the airport has two other runways and labels them 32L, 32R, and the under-construction one 32. This is very confusing and most airports in the world with three runways would label them left, center and right.

Thus we can only say, as armchair pilots, that the cockpit misunderstood instructions to land at 32R and went for the runway that was the most to the right of all three runways. After all, that’s how it is everywhere else.

Additionally, it is believed that AIP Russa maps do not label the runway as ‘under construction’. According to current maps, the runways are named 32L, 32R and 32; the aerodrome chart does not show runway 32 as closed or under construction. Also ILS CAT I, GLS and RNAV approaches to runway 32 are published; only an RNAV approach is published for runway 32R.

The Superjet 100 has been involved in a few incidents in the past, some of which have involved fatalities (one crash at Moscow itself). However, all of these have been due to pilot error and not to do with the aircraft itself.

What do you think? Did the pilots make a mistake or is the airport to blame? Let us know in the comments.