December 6, 2023

Russian airliner carrying 170 people was forced to crash-land in a field after a hydraulics failure.

No one was injured in the emergency, which left the Ural Airlines Airbus A320 stranded next to a forest in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia.

Ural said the pilot “selected” the landing site after the jet’s hydraulic systems failed while approaching Omsk.

The incident sparked denials from the airline that it was unable to service its planes due to sanctions on Russia.

Pictures showed the plane stranded in a corn field, its emergency doors open and ramps down, and people milling around.

A video on social media showed a heavy digger then dismembering the plane, lopping off the cockpit, tail and wings to more easily remove the plane from the field.

Russia’s aviation agency Rosaviatsia said that the “unscheduled landing” happened in the early hours of Tuesday.

It added that the landing point had been “selected from the air” near the village of Kamenka. None of the passengers had sought medical aid, it added.

Rosaviatsia said it was investigating the emergency landing, and Ural said the crew had been suspended until the investigation was complete.

Sergei Skuratov, the head of Ural Airlines, said that one of the plane’s hydraulic systems failed as it flew to Omsk from Sochi on the Black Sea coast.

He denied that the plane had caught fire, saying apparent scorch marks above one of the wings seen in pictures on social media was “just dirt”.

A catastrophic failure of a plane’s hydraulic systems can lead to a loss of flight control.

However, Russian aviation experts said there are back-up systems and disputed the crew’s decision to make the landing.

“There are three hydraulic systems, one electric,” pilot Andrei Litvinov told of the A320. “There is no need to land the plane in a field.”

He added the decision endangered the lives of those on board and on the ground

The emergency landing comes as Russian airlines face difficulty obtaining spare parts due to Western sanctions on Moscow over its offensive in Ukraine.

In March, the Russian media outlet Vedomosti quoted Ural Airlines official Igor Poddubny as saying that it had about three months before they began breaking up planes for parts.

However, Mr Skuratov maintained that all of his airline’s planes were serviced with genuine parts.

“We will never allow incorrect spare parts to be used,” Mr Skuratov said. “It’s difficult, with a fight, but all the spare parts used on our aircraft are certified.

“I stake my head on it.”

The Interfax agency reported that the crashed A320 was about 20 years old and had an airworthiness certificate to the end of next year.

Reuters reported in August that Ural Airlines and other Russian airlines had managed to bypass Western sanctions on several occasions, using middle men in countries including China and the UAE that do not support the restrictions.

A Ural Airlines Airbus A321 was forced to land in a field outside Moscow in 2019 after being hit by gulls during take-off. Around 70 of the 230 people on board were injured in the crash, which Russian media dubbed the “miracle over Ramensk“.

The crew was later given state awards.

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