S7 Airbus A320 Returns To Moscow Over Unreliable Airspeed

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An S7 Airlines Airbus A320 flying out of Moscow Domodedovo (DME) to Kaliningrad (KGD) decided to return to DME after the crew determined that their speed indication system was faulty. After flying two rounds in a holding pattern, the A320 landed safely back at its origin airport. Sources note that high-level winds were coming in from the west, which could have been a factor.

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S7 Airlines has had numerous incidents in August and September. Photo: Getty Images

Details of the incident

The incident aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with registration VQ-BPN. According to The Aviation Herald, the plane was performing flight S71213 from Moscow Domodedovo to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, located between Poland and Lithuania.

Achieving cruising altitude, the jet was en route to Kaliningrad at FL340. However, just 110nm (200km) west of Moscow, the crew determined their speed indication system was faulty. The aircraft descended to FL280 and subsequently began a return to Moscow Domodedovo.

Returning to DME, the aircraft was put into a holding pattern, flying two rounds until it could make its approach and land back at Domodedovo. From the moment the aircraft landed, 55 minutes had passed since the decision to turn around. 110 minutes had passed from the time the aircraft first departed.

The Aviation Herald notes that there were high-level winds of about 80-100 knots from the west reported at the time of the incident. This may have had a part to play in the abnormalities observed with the aircraft’s speed indication system.

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S71213 flight path
Shown above is the flight path of S71213 on September 10th. The aircraft can be seen flying out, turning around, and flying two rounds in a holding pattern before finally landing. Photo: FlightRadar24.com 

A replacement A320-200 was dispatched to carry passengers to their destination. The aircraft had registration VQ-BRD and reached Kaliningrad with a delay of about four hours.

Sources note that the occurrence aircraft returned to service about 22 hours after landing back.

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About the incident aircraft

According to data from Planespotters.net, the incident aircraft (VQ-BPN) was an eight and a half-year-old Airbus A320-200 produced in Toulouse. First configured to have eight seats in business class and 150 in economy, the single-aisle aircraft was then reconfigured in 2020 to have 174 seats in a single class economy setup. To date, the aircraft has flown with S7 for its entire service life.

Since the incident, FlightRadar24.com data shows that VQ-BPN has resumed regular passenger service, flying two to three round-trip services per day out of its base at Moscow Domodedovo Airport. Destinations have included the following cities:

  • Gelendzhik
  • Astrakhan
  • Murmansk
  • Anapa
  • Mineralnye Vody
  • Stavropol
  • Simferopol
  • St. Petersburg
  • Kaliningrad
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S7 is a oneworld Alliance member. Photo: Getty Images

At least the fifth incident in a month

S7’s pilots may be getting more than their fair share of out-of-the-ordinary experiences as flight 1213 was the airline’s fifth diversion or go-around incident within the span of a month.

During the early hours of August 15th, an S7 Boeing 737 was flying from Novosibirsk and trying to land in Chita when it had to perform two go-arounds before having to divert to Ulan-Ude. The crew could not establish visual contact with the runway.

On August 17th, an S7 A320neo flying across Russia from Novosibirsk to Magadan spotted a large bear on the runway and had to initiate a go-around.

On August 20th, Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, was taken seriously ill on an S7 Boeing 737 flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Mr. Navalny had been poisoned by a toxic nerve agent in a suspected assassination attempt.

S7 A320 returns to Moscow
A bird strike forced the S7 flight to return to Moscow Domodedovo Airport. Photo: Flightradar24

On September 11th, an S7 A320 was forced to return to Moscow Domodedovo Airport after experiencing a bird strike while climbing after takeoff. The crew of the Dalaman bound flight decided to return to Moscow after an engine began to vibrate.

Have you flown with S7 Airlines before? Please share your experience of the Russian carrier with us by leaving a comment.

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