THE hero pilot of a packed Russian airliner downed by a birdstrike called his wife moments after safely landing the plane and checking everyone was
THE hero pilot of a packed Russian airliner downed by a birdstrike called his wife moments after safely landing the plane and checking everyone was alright.
Damir Yusupov miraculously managed to bring the massive Airbus-321 down in a cornfield moments after it lost both engines when it ploughed into gulls.
Only one of the 233 people on board was hurt seriously enough to be hospitalised thanks to the smooth landing.
Quick thinking Cpt Yusupov, 41, was hailed for managing to steady the aircraft after it took off from Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airport.
The Ural Airlines plane, en route to Simferopol in Crimea, smashed straight into a flock of birds that got sucked into both engines.
Captain Yusupov, who reportedly received treatment in hospital after the crash, told Russian media he did not consider himself a hero.
Many people say that I am a hero, but to be honest, I don’t feel like a hero at all, because I did what I had to do: saved the plane, passengers, crew
Captain Damir Yusupov
He added that he initially thought he would have to return to the airport until the second engine failed.
He said: “Engine power was not enough to continue the flight, even to maintain the altitude that we had occupied by that time.
“The height was not significant.
“Initially, there was a decision to turn around, land the plane, but when I saw that the second engine also failed.
“There was little time. But when they saw that the second engine was also failing, I had a decision – to land the plane just in front of me.
“After the evacuation of passengers I got out, went around the plane, examined the external damage, made sure that everything was at a safe distance.
“I returned to the cockpit and from there called my wife.
“Many people say that I am a hero, but to be honest, I don’t feel like a hero at all, because I did what I had to do: saved the plane, passengers, crew.”
Yusupov’s wife told Rossiya state television from their home in Yekaterinburg that he called her after landing.
She said: “He called me and said: ‘Everything is fine, everyone is alive.’
“I asked what was it, and he said that birds hit the engine and we landed in a field.
“I was horrified and in panic and burst into tears.”
Aviation agency chief Alexander Neradko said the crew “made the only right decision” to immediately land the fully loaded plane.
He said: “The crew has shown courage and professionalism and deserve the highest state awards”.
“Just imagine what the consequences would be if the crew didn’t make the correct decision.”
RELIEF OF PASSENGERS
One terrified passenger said the miracle has resulted in them finding religion.
They said: “We are standing in the middle of the field. One lad broke his arm. Another one broke his finger.
“They told us nothing. The engine clapped several times, they tried to restart it, and we began to fall down.
“I was holding onto the cross around my neck and now I do believe in God.”
We took off and fell back down in the field. The pilot saved all our lives.
Passenger Lyudmila Shavrova
Another emotional passenger said: “We collapsed, but the hero pilots managed to land the big bird.
“Huge respect to them. I can’t speak in fact, my heart is racing.
“Congratulations to me and all other passengers on surviving… ah, it was so scary.”
Passenger Lyudmila Shavrova said: “We took off and fell back down in the field. The pilot saved all our lives.”
Lyudmila Kolesnikova said: “Damir (the pilot) I bow to you for your professionalism, for every life that you saved today.
“An enormous thank you. Wishing you long, healthy life!”
THANKS FOR CREW
After the evacuation, passengers rushed to embrace and thank Yusupov and his flight attendants who helped them exit the stricken Airbus.
The flight attendants credited with getting people off the plane were: Dmitry Ivlitsky, Dmitry Goncharenko, Aliya Slyakaeva, Yana Yagodina and Nadezhda Vershinina.
The RusMoloko corn farm which owns the corn field said in a statement: “We are very happy indeed that everyone is safe and healthy.
“It was skills of the crew plus our corn field that helped to rescue everyone.
“The corn acted as cushion just as happens when a runway is covered with foam for emergency landings.
“Just imagine would have happened if there was no corn.”
BORN TO FLY
Yusupov, the son of a helicopter pilot, is an experienced pilot who has logged over 3,000 flight hours, the airline said.
He worked as a lawyer before he changed course and joined a flight school when he was 32.
A father of four, he has flown with Ural Airlines since his graduation in 2013 – and only became a captain last year.
Russian officials immediately rushed to shower the pilot and crew with praise.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, hailed the pilots as “heroes” and said they will receive state awards.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev opened a session of Cabinet by praising the crew and asking the transport minister to explain what happened.
The Emergencies Ministry said that 74 people asked for medical assistance after the incident.
Health authorities said 23 people, including five children, were taken to the hospital, but all but one was released following check-ups.
Pilots train often to fly with one engine disabled, but it’s rare for birds to knock out both engines, experts say.
Cpt Yusupov’s calmness drew comparisons to the 2009 “miracle on the Hudson.
Cpt Chesley Sullenberger safely ditched his plane in New York’s Hudson River after a bird strike disabled its engines.
The near-disaster was immortalised in the Hollywood movie “Sully” based on the autobiography of Sullenberger and starring Tom Hanks.
Experts say the two near-tragedies could force aircraft makers and regulators to rethink engine designs so they can better withstand bird strikes.
John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: “That’s likely to be a discussion, just because the overall aviation system learns from incidents like this.”
MOST READ IN WORLD NEWS
John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board, said the bird-vs- engine problem has been under study for years, with no fix available at present.
He added: “As far as the engine being able to digest the larger birds, we don’t have the technology.
“We don’t have the metals. They really pushed the envelope where we are today.”