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Russian plane crash-lands on belly, no one hurt

Russian plane crash-lands on belly, no one hurt
A view shows the UTair Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane following a hard landing at Usinsk airport, Komi Republic, Russia, on Feb 9, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

MOSCOW - A Russian plane carrying 100 people crash-landed on its belly in the north of the country after problems with its landing gear on Sunday (Feb 9), the company and officials said, adding no one was seriously hurt.

The Utair Boeing 737 was buffeted by a sudden change in wind direction as it was landing at Usinsk airport in the northern Komi region, the airline said, and it was already on the tarmac when it suffered a malfunction.

At the time of the crash landing, the airport's instrument landing system was not working and the runway lighting was out, Utair said.

Images online showed a Boeing sitting on its belly on the snow-covered tarmac as passengers scrambled to evacuate.

None of the 94 passengers or six crew members were badly injured, the airline said. One passenger sought medical assistance.

"Thanks to the crew's quick and highly-professional actions it was possible to keep the plane on the landing strip until it came to a full stop," Utair said.

It praised its "experienced" crew, saying the chief pilot has more than 6,900 hours of flight time.

A spokeswoman for the local branch of the emergencies ministry told AFP that "the plane landed on its tail".

The passengers and crew evacuated via emergency slides, she said.

"What's happened at Usinsk airport today is unacceptable," the head of the Komi region, Mr Sergei Gaplikov, said in a statement.

"Thank God no one has been seriously hurt."

Utair said it had grounded Monday's scheduled flight from Usinsk to Moscow because of the landing strip's "unsatisfactory condition".

Russia, with poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards, has one of the worst air safety records in the world, critics say.

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