A UTair Boeing 737 incurred a tail strike during a hard landing at Usinsk airport (USK) in the Republic of Komi earlier on Sunday. The twin-engine aircraft with 88 passengers and 6 crew aboard suffered a malfunctioning landing gear causing the aircraft to slide belly down into a snowy field.
The crew deployed the emergency slides and all passengers and crew members were able to evacuate the aircraft without any injuries. Airport authorities informed the media that no one was hurt in the incident and that fire engines were deployed but not needed.
Meanwhile, local media is reporting that before the incident, the aircraft dumped fuel prior to landing.
СРОЧНО!!!!!!!!!! Республика Коми г.Усинск
Самолёт авиакомпании "Ютейр" совершил жёсткую посадку в Усинске. Боинг-737 сел прямо на брюхо. На борту находилось 94 человека, по предварительным данным, никто не пострадал. pic.twitter.com/2AwZfLQsHR
— Иван Короткий (@fokctrot) February 9, 2020
The Twitter post reads: “URGENT!!!!!!!!!! Komi Republic Usinsk
Aircraft airline UTair made a hard landing in Usinsk. Boeing 737 sat right on the belly. There were 94 people on board, according to preliminary data, no one was injured.”
The video below shows passengers climbing out of the aircraft and on to the icy runway:
And here’s video of the landing from one of the passengers pic.twitter.com/cWBJfYSZCD
— Vasily Kuznetsov (@RuAviaPhotog) February 9, 2020
In the video above, you can see that the landing was so hard that a panel came down from the ceiling. Speculation suggests that a malfunctioning landing gear was to blame. However, bad weather or pilot error have not been ruled out.
As Usinsk Airport sees very little air traffic, we can surmise that the flight was UTair flight UT595. The flight originated at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport (VKO) and would have landed in Usinsk at 12:20 local time.
The footage above indicates that the aircraft’s registration is VQ-BPS, which is a 22-year old Boeing 737-500 which first flew with Continental Airlines in 1997 before joining United Airlines and then UTair in 2012.
UTair was founded to serve the oil and gas industry
Founded as a settlement in 1966 after the discovery of large petroleum and gas reserves in the Komi Republic, Usinsk is located some 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from Moscow and has a population of around 40,000 inhabitants.
Originally set up to serve the booming gas and oil industry in western Siberia UTair is today a Russian low-cost airline based at Khanty-Mansiysk Airport (HMA) in one of the four Autonomous Okrug regions of Russia.
Primarily focused on serving oil and gas-rich areas of Russia, UTair has hubs at Surgut International Airport (SGC) in Khanty-Mansi and Vnukovo International Airport (VKO) in Moscow. From its main base and hubs, UTair operates regularly scheduled domestic flights within Russia and a few international destinations in the former Soviet Union.
Awaiting Three Boeing 737 MAX
UTair’s fleet is currently made up of the following aircraft:
- 12 ATR 42s
- 3 ATR 72s
- 6 Boeing 737- 400s
- 30 Boeing 737-500s
- 10 Boeing 737-800s
- 3 Boeing 767-200s
As well as its current fleet, UTair has three 737 MAX aircraft waiting to be delivered by Boeing. The Russian carrier was supposed to receive the aircraft in 2019 but delivery has been delayed due to the worldwide grounding of the MAX following two deadly crashes.
The 737 MAX was supposed to be a replacement for some of UTair’s older 737-500 aircraft, like the one involved in today’s incident.