After having been left sitting in the snow at the end of Novosibirsk-Tolmachevo Airport (OBV) runway 07/25 for just over two weeks following a crash landing, the Volga-Dnepr An-124 was finally removed with the aid of a couple of tanks. Because only the nose landing gear was damaged when the aircraft overran the runway, workers could drag the monster plane back onto the runway with the aid of two BREM-1 armored repair and recovery vehicles.
The BREM-1 is a tracked Russian tank and armored personnel carrier built on a T-72 battle tank’s chassis. With no other way of getting what was once the world’s heaviest aircraft moved, the Russian army was called in to see if they could budge the giant four-engine plane. Placing the two BREM-1s in tandem, the recovery vehicles moved the plane as the aircraft main landing gear was still functioning. By attaching a cable to the aircraft’s cargo hold, the BREM’s were able to pull the plane backward despite the damage you see in the photograph.
Why the plane suffered a runway excursion
The An-124 registered RA-82042 made a scheduled stop in Novosibirsk in the southwestern part of Siberia while on route from Seoul, South Korea, to Vienna International Airport (VIE) in Austria.
After being prepped for the second leg of its journey, the aircraft took off from Novosibirsk-Tolmachevo Airport’s runway 25 around midday local time. When the plane reached an altitude of 1800, all radio contact was lost, and the An-124 was seen to make a circle in preparation for an emergency landing.
Smoke could be seen trailing behind the plane
Witnesses on the ground said that they could see smoke trailing from the number 2 engine. The captain of flight VI4066 made what appeared to be a picture-perfect landing with clear sunny weather, albeit perhaps a bit further down the runway than he would have liked.
Unable to slow down in time, the aircraft overshot the runway and lost its nose landing gear when it hit a bank of snow, leaving the front of the plane to slide along the ground. All 14 people onboard the flight managed to evacuate safely with no injuries, but the plane was too damaged to move until the Army was called in to lend a hand.
The nose gear collapsed
Aviation incident reporting website The Aviation Herald says that the flight captain reported that the inboard left engine blew at around 1,000 feet just after gear retraction with the flaps still extended for takeoff. Debris from the damaged engine took out some of the plane’s cables and all the aircraft’s electrical supply to instruments, brakes, and thrust reversers. Despite having no electrical power, the captain managed to land safely on runway 25 but had no means of bringing the aircraft to a stop.
Eventually, the plane came to rest in a field some 650 feet from the runway’s end while parts of the number 2 engine and its cowling were found in a field some two miles from the airport. One piece of the engine also crashed through the roof of a warehouse, but no one inside was injured.
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