Boeing flight 737-800 crashed early Saturday morning while attempting to land on a runway in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. All 55 passengers and 7 crew members were killed.
The plane was making a second attempt to land on the runway during “poor weather conditions.” The wing of the plane reportedly “hit the runway, began to break up, and burst into flames.” From there the plane broke up completely and exploded about 800 feet from the runway.
“It was an uncontrollable fall,” said Sergei Kruglikov, a veteran Russian pilot. Kruglikov stated a sudden change in the speed and direction of the wind could have caused the wings to lose their lifting power. Another veteran pilot, Viktor Zabolotsky, also cited a sudden change in wind speed as a probable cause of the crash.
“By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level,” said Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region.
The airport is currently shut down and according the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations about 700 people are involved in the recovery operation. Psychologists and medics are on standby to assist the families of the victims.
President Vladimir Putin has offered his condolences to the victims’ families. Top ranking Russian Cabinet officials have flown to the crash site and are overseeing the investigation. One of two cockpit conversation recorders have been located.
“We don’t yet know all the details of the accident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish the cause. We are making every effort to care for those affected and will provide assistance to the loved ones of those on board,” Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said in a statement.
The aircraft itself was around 5 years old. Both the pilot and the copilot had over 5500 hours of flight experience. Flydubai, founded in March of 2008, has so far had a very good track record regarding flight safety.