Red Wings Sukhoi Superjet Slides Off The Runway In Russia

A Sukhoi Superjet 100 operated by Russian leisure airline Red Wings has suffered a runway excursion. The regional jet was landing in Norilsk from Chelyabinsk earlier today, when it veered left off the runway and came to a stop in snow. No injuries were reported to passengers or crew.

Red Wings SSJ100
A Red Wings SSJ-100 ended up off the runway earlier today. Photo: Getty Images

Red Wings Superjet slides off the runway

A Red Wings SSJ-100 had an eventful arrival at the airport in Norilsk today. Flying in from Chelyabinsk in the early hours of this morning, the three-hour and 10-minute trip had gone without a hitch. The Superjet, registered RA-89138, touched down at Norilsk at just after 10:00, with a reported 81 passengers and six crew members onboard.

According to the Aviation Herald, the aircraft was completing its landing roll and had traveled around 1,800 meters (5,940 feet) down the runway, when it began to veer to the left. Reports suggest the aircraft skidded for around 30 meters before coming to a stop off the runway.

Nobody was hurt, thankfully, and the aircraft was successfully returned to the paved surface around 80 minutes later. The Eastern Interregional Transport Investigation Department is looking into the occurrence.

Red Wings is a 22-year-old leisure airline in Russia, flying to a long list of domestic destinations and a handful of international locations. It operates a fleet of 29 aircraft, mainly from the A320 family, alongside three Boeing 777s and three Tu-204s. On the SSJ side, it has nine aircraft and has orders in for 51 more. It will also be one of the early operators of the MC-21 narrowbody.

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Airports in snow

Flying into treacherous conditions is usually avoided in much of the world. In North America and Europe, in particular, spates of snow can often cause delays or can even ground flights entirely. But in countries like Russia, where the snowy season lasts for around half a year and sees typical snowfall of at least 25 mm (up to 200 mm or more) across most of the country, stopping flying is simply not an option.

As such, airports in Russia work hard to keep the runways clear, and to allow critical cargo and passenger flights to continue to operate. That’s not to say there’s never any disruption – last winter, even Moscow experienced trouble after a period of very heavy snow. But for the most part, Russia does a sterling job of keeping people moving, even in the most challenging conditions.

Snow can present a significant challenge to airlines and airports. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Norilsk, where this incident occurred, is also known as the ‘coldest city in the world’. Here, it snows for 270 days a year. Today, if you’re interested, it has experienced a high of -11°C and a low of -16°C (12.2°F to 3.2°F), and today was one of the warmest days of the week. By next Monday, residents are forecast to be enjoying temperatures of -22°C to -26°C (-7.6°F to -14.8°F).

Keeping any sort of functionality going in these extreme temperatures is an impressive feat, and for Russia, keeping the airports open is like a military operation. Snow removal tanks, snowplows, and de-icing chemicals will all be put into play to keep the runway clear, as well as treating taxiways. The aircraft, too, need to be deiced, and specialist ground handling equipment is deployed to maintain clear operations.

Of course, even with all their hard work, landing conditions can be treacherous. Although a formal investigation will likely follow today’s excursion incident, it seems plausible that icy conditions were at least partly to blame for the issue.

Have you ever landed in snow? Let us know your bad weather flying stories in the comments.