Just weeks after a Xiamen Air B737 crashed while landing in Manila, one of Utair’s B737s has crashed while landing at Sochi.
UT579 departed from Moscow shortly after 00:30MSK on 1st September 2018. The flight usually takes around two hours, however, on this occasion was met with changeable weather on Arrival in Sochi. Due to a change in winds, and runways, the aircraft took 3 attempts to land. On the third attempt to land, the aircraft overshot the runway. This resulted in the aircraft coming to a halt in a riverbed next to the airport.
Thankfully there were relatively few injuries during the incident. The aircraft had 170 souls on board at the time, 164 passengers and 6 crew. Out of these, 18 occupants were injured. 8 of the injured were taken to hospital. Officials said that passengers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and burn injures. Unfortunately the airport shift supervisor, who was one of the first to respond to the accident, passed away from a heart attack during the rescue efforts. After the crash landing the left engine burst into flames. The aircraft was evacuated using the emergency exits and slides.
Damaged Beyond Repair
Following the incident, the B737-800 was written off. The aircraft registered VQ-BJI sustained serious damage to the fuselage and wing. A wing and the landing gear were destroyed and the left wing was burnt when the left engine caught fire according to Russia’s Ministry of Emergency. The aircraft in question was approximately 16 years old. It was delivered to Ryanair in 2002, and has since flown for Atlant-Soyuz Airlines, and Moscow Airlines, before being stored at the start of 2011. It started flying for Utair in October 2011.
4th Hull Loss
This incident marks the fourth complete hull loss in the airline’s history. Previous incidents have occurred in 2002, 2007, and 2012. On 9th November 2002, one of the airline’s Antonov An-26B aircraft crashed during landing at Turkey’s Antalya Airport. Then on 11th March 2007, a Tupolev 134A-3 crashed short of the runway during landing at Samara Airport in Russia. Finally, in 2012 a Utair ATR 72-201 crashed during its initial climb from Tyumen-Roschino International Airport in Russia. The airline’s four incidents have resulted in a total of 39 fatalities.
In a tweet posted in Russian, the airline responded to the incident by saying:
Utair together with the aviation authorities investigate the causes of the incident with the Boeing 737-800. Management and specialists of the company immediately flew to Sochi to interact with the airport, the authorities of the city and the Krasnodar region, investigative authorities.
Utair вместе с авиационными властями расследует причины случившегося с Boeing 737-800. Руководство и специалисты компании немедленно вылетели в Сочи для взаимодействия с аэропортом, властями города и Краснодарского края, следственными органами. Подробнее: https://t.co/1rF7OQNjGO
— Utair (@UTairAvia) September 1, 2018
In addition, the Investigative Committee in Russia has launched a criminal investigation regarding the incident. The investigation is “on suspicion of inadequate services with a risk to clients’ health”. Whilst this incident was tragic, no occupant loss of life goes to show the resilience of the aircraft being manufactured and flown today.