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Russian Jet Makes 'Miracle' Crash Landing

A Russian passenger plane carrying 81 people crash landed  due to power failure at a deserted air strip in Siberia on Tuesday.  The plane, a Tupolev (TU-154) airliner en route to Moscow was forced to
PTI September 09, 2010 12:31 IST
PTI
A Russian passenger plane carrying 81 people crash landed  due to power failure at a deserted air strip in Siberia on Tuesday.  

The plane, a Tupolev (TU-154) airliner en route to Moscow was forced to glide down from its cruising altitude of 10,000 meter (33,000 feet) with no working navigation gear and at a high speed after its wing flaps failed, the general prosecutor's office said.  

The 72 passengers, including three children, and nine crew members were in shock but unhurt after the pilot guided his plane down on to the defunct runway overgrown with trees and weeds. 



The landing was later hailed as "heroic" and "miraculous".

"After its electrical equipment failed, the crew was forced to land the plane. The landing was manual, without radio contact,'' the prosecutors' office said.  

Forced down at the tiny air strip built for helicopter use, the passenger liner overshot the tarmac, tearing through 200 metres of forest brush before coming to rest, it said.

But the air base's runway near the village of Izhma in the northern Komi region was too short for the big Tupolev that was landing at a speed much higher than usual because of the systems failure, and the plane rolled off into a nearby forest. 



Russian television stations showed footage of the airliner sitting among mostly intact young trees.

The State Investigative Committee said it would probe what caused the accident. The plane is owned by Alrosa airlines.  

"We had no time to get scared," passenger Alexey Grishin said on Rossiya television. "We only got scared when we got out of the plane."

Grishin and other passengers praised the pilots who managed to land despite overwhelming odds.  

The electrical system failure meant that the flaps intended to slow the plane down on final approach didn't work. 



One veteran Russian pilot likened Tuesday's landing to the successful landing of a U.S. Airways jet in the Hudson River in January 2009.

"Our boy was just as great an ace as the American pilot who managed to save the people and the craft in an emergency," pilot Yuri Sytnik told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Officials wouldn't comment on possible reasons behind the plane's systems failure. Alexander Neradko, the head of the state civil aviation agency, said Wednesday that the authorities would conduct additional checks but wouldn't ground any Tu-154s pending the investigation.  

The Tu-154, first flown in 1968, has been a mainstay with Soviet and the Russian civil aviation and hundreds are still in service in Russia and other nations.  

The plane, operated by Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise, which belongs to diamond monopoly Alrosa, now lies sunk in a bog beyond the disused air field, near the village of Izhma in Russia's far northern Komi region, 1500 kilometres from Moscow.



Local blogs and twitter pages buzzed with calls for Russia to award the airliner's pilot a medal for his "miraculous'' and "heroic'' landing.

Meanwhile, the ITAR-TASS news agency said all of the stranded passengers had Wednesday safely made it to Moscow on another flight - except for one couple who preferred to travel by train after their ordeal.