Hero pilots flew an ‘out of control’ plane for FIVE HOURS over Siberia after their aircraft with 200 passengers on board plunged into a sudden dive after take off
- Pilots flew Airbus A321 across Siberia for more than five hours after Mayday call
- S7 plane rattled and shook then plunged into a dive after takeoff from Magadan
- Captain made a Mayday call but they could not offload enough fuel to land again
- The pilots were forced to fly on and landed in Irkutsk five and a half hours later
Hero pilots flew an ‘out of control’ plane over Siberia for five hours when the aircraft plunged into a sudden dive after taking off with 200 passengers onboard.
The S7 plane ran into trouble – the autopilot system disconnected, there was an onboard electronics failure and the fuselage was covered in ice – five minutes after taking off from Magdan airport in eastern Russia.
The captain made a Mayday call but the pilots were unable to offload fuel and land in the departure airport, despite circling overhead several times.
Instead, they were forced to fly on over mountain ranges, towards the next nearest airport Yakutsk before finally landing in Irkutsk five and half hours later.
The plane was impounded on arrival and police are probing whether faulty or deliberately botched de-icer spray was used on the fuselage ahead of take off.
Passengers, among them 25 children, reportedly applauded the pilots after they safely landed the plane in Irkutsk. They were offered drinks, food and onward flights.
Hero pilots flew this ‘out of control’ plane over Siberia for five hours after the aircraft plunged into a sudden dive after taking off with 200 passengers onboard
The captain made a Mayday call but the pilots were unable to offload fuel and land in the departure airport, despite circling overhead several times (pictured)
Panicking passengers ‘screamed and prayed’ while one woman said how she hugged her husband and said ‘goodbye’, convinced they would die.
Passenger Stanislav Kuimov said: ‘Five minutes after takeoff, the plane began to lose altitude sharply. We were thrown down and up. First pressed into the seats, then there was almost zero gravity.
‘The rattle of the wings, the crackle of the fuselage, the noise of the wind, the roar of engines, bags falling from the luggage racks – horror.’
Passenger Stanislav Kuimov said: ‘The rattle of the wings, the crackle of the fuselage, the noise of the wind, the roar of engines, bags falling from the luggage racks – horror’
The captain issued a Mayday call soon after takeoff as the aircraft rolled and swayed and the lights flashed on and off. The pilots attempted two emergency landings in Magadan but were unable to jettison fuel to touch down safely.
Despite an onboard electronics failure and losing the autopilot, the captain chose to fly on towards the next nearest airport – Yakutsk, the world’s coldest city.
A female passenger said: ‘A strong rattling began, the plane rolled from side to side. Then the nose went down sharply, and we plunged at speed.
‘People screamed and began to pray, no-one understood anything. My husband and I hugged each other, saying goodbye.’
After almost an hour, the plane stabilised but it took three hours before the pilots reached a 32,000ft cruising altitude.
The ice problem lessened but the crew rejected a landing in freezing Yakutsk, where the temperature was minus 30C.
They flew on to Irkutsk, where it was minus 1C and made a successful emergency landing to loud applause from the passengers after a five and a half hour nightmare.
The low level flying in the first three hours of the flight meant the aircraft did not have sufficient fuel to reach its final destination, Novosibirsk.
S7 airline – a major Russian carrier that is part of the same ‘Oneworld’ alliance as British Airways – said that on takeoff the plane had ‘got into a zone of severe icing, which led to the disconnection of the autopilot’.
Law enforcement impounded the Airbus and officers were carrying out checks amid suspicions the deicing spray used in Magadan was faulty or counterfeit.
The pilots flew on to Irkutsk airport (pictured), where it was minus 1C and made a successful emergency landing to loud applause from the passengers after a five and a half hour nightmare
A source told Russian outlet Readovka said: ‘The crew announced a loss of control and the decision to return to the airport of departure, Magadan.
‘But they could not descend and land.’
A video from flightradar shows the plane circling around Magadan as it sought to make an emergency landing soon after takeoff – before gaining altitude and flying on.
Magadan mayor Yury Grishan praised the ‘high professionalism, courage and composure’ of the crew during the emergency.
‘Your prompt actions prevented tragedy and saved the lives of more than 200 passengers,’ he said.
Both the Russian Investigative Committee for Transport and Baikal-Angarsk Transport Prosecutor’s Office were probing the horror flight.
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