Ural Airlines is trying to get A320 back to service

On September 12, Ural Airlines’ Airbus A320 landed in a field near Novosibirsk in Siberia due to a malfunction and consequent lack of fuel. That is, in short, the epilogue of flight U61283 on the Sochi-Omosk route when, after a hydraulic failure, the captain decided to divert to Novosibirsk due to the longer runway compared to the intended destination. According to Avherald, due to problems with the hydraulics (green hydraulic system), the crew was able to retract the landing gear, but the landing gear remained open, which caused a 25% higher fuel consumption, resulting in the aircraft running out of fuel earlier than expected. After declaring an emergency, the crew chose a wheat field to land on. A technically almost perfect forced landing was performed, and none of the 167 passengers and crew members were seriously injured, with only 5 passengers requesting medical assistance. 200 kg of fuel was found in the plane upon landing, not enough to reach Novosibirsk, about 70 NM away.

Although no information is yet available to the public as to what caused the malfunction, it is speculated that the accident could be related to the sanctions directed at Russia, because of which Boeing and Airbus no longer supply spare parts to Russian carriers.

The aircraft in question is an Airbus A320-214, originally delivered to Air Arabia in March 2004. During the service, the aircraft entered the fleet of Air Arabia Maroc in 2011, and in 2013 proceeded to Ural Airlines under the registration VP-BMW. The aircraft was assigned registration RA-73805 in May 2022.

On September 21, Ural Airlines announced that the aircraft would soon be returned to service, without further details. The latest photos from the landing site show how the plane is truly being prepared to fly again. The escape slides were removed, the doors were closed, the engines were opened (probably for servicing) and the aircraft was cleaned. Most importantly, the wheels were dug out of the trenches they created upon landing. Also, a GPU (Ground Power Unit), i.e. the generator needed to start the engines, was spotted next to the aircraft.

Ural Airlines A320
© Ural Airlines

Although there is no official confirmation, it is speculated that Ural Airlines is waiting for the field to freeze to try to take off, or to use a nearby road for that purpose. Experts agree that the carrier would not be performing all those activities on the aircraft if the intention was to disassemble it (remove the wings and stabilizers) and transport it to the first airport. However, this would be significantly less risky, but certainly more expensive and logistically more demanding.

This is the second emergency landing of Ural Airlines in only 4 years. The first was in 2019, when an Airbus A321 landed in a cornfield due to a collision with a flock of birds.

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