An ATR 72 turboprop belonging to Russian carrier UTair recently had a rather difficult day at work. The aircraft in question had to abandon two flights on July 1st: one during takeoff, and one during its climb. Let’s take a closer look at these incidents.
The first incident
The first oil pressure-related incident pertaining to the UTair ATR 72 in question occurred on July 1st. According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft’s crew were notified by a low oil pressure indication during the plane’s takeoff roll. The ATR 72 had been operating a Russian domestic flight between Sochi and Krasnodar (UT294) before aborting its departure.
Having received the warning, the crew were able to safely bring the plane’s speed down on Sochi International Airport’s (AER) 3,000-meter long runway 24. Having done so, the plane taxied back to the apron, and UTair eventually sourced a replacement aircraft for its passengers. According to FlightRadar24.com, they arrived at 14:04, 2.5 hours late.
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The second incident
The Aviation Herald reports that the aircraft remained on the ground in Sochi for eight hours before re-entering service on the evening of July 1st. The plane’s first duty after the initial incident was another domestic service, this time flight UT135 to Astrakhan. It departed Sochi with 66 passengers onboard, but, soon after takeoff, the same problem arose.
Having climbed to 16,000 feet, the crew once again received an indication of low oil pressure, this time in the ATR 72’s left-hand engine. As such, returned to Sochi, and landed safely 30 minutes later. A replacement aircraft was dispatched, with FlightRadar24 showing that it got to Astrakhan with a seven-hour delay, at 04:04 the next morning.
Interestingly, these are not the only incidents to have involved a UTair ATR 72 this year. Indeed, April saw Simple Flying report on a ground collision between such an aircraft and a Yakovlev Yak-40 in Surgut, Russia. We have reached out to UTair for further information regarding these incidents, and will provide an update upon receiving such details.
The aircraft involved
The plane that suffered the consecutive oil pressure issues bore the registration BQ-BLJ. According to data from ch-aviation.com, this is one of 15 active ATR 72-500 aircraft in UTair’s present fleet. It is just under 10 years old, and seats 70 passengers in a four-abreast (2-2) all-economy configuration. In 2014 and 2015, it briefly flew for UTair-Express.
Interestingly enough, both of the affected flights had the same replacement aircraft. This came in the form of another ATR 72-500, which was also just under 10 years old, and bore the registration VQ-BMA. Like its stricken counterpart, this 70-seat French-designed turboprop aircraft also flew for UTair-Express between March 2014 and May 2015.
What do you make of these incidents? Have you ever flown on one of UTair’s ATR72s? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.