Last month a flydubai Boeing 737 crashed at Rostov on Don, Russia as it faced severe weather.
While I think most travelers find airline accidents disturbing, and even take them personally and are affected by them, this incident struck me somewhat closer to home than it might have, since I had just recently taken flydubai for the first time myself.
Weather that night was terrible, and the plane had aborted its approach to the airport’s runway 22. It held at 8000 feet for half an hour, then climbed back to 15,000 feet where it held for another hour and a half.
Aeroflot, Czech and Turkish all diverted that night. It appears that the flydubai aircraft had just aborted an attempt, rather than crashing during an attempted landing.
Here’s the remarkably calm air traffic control recording in the minutes prior to the crash.
In this video the plane appears to be descending sharply and quickly.
The agency investigating the crash has released some preliminary findings.
Amid windshear warnings and severe turbulence, the crew aborted an attempted landing at Rostov-on-Don Airport. But as they revved the engines to regain altitude, the plane was inexplicably put into a “nose-down” position, leading to a sudden descent of the Boeing Co. 737-800 that doomed all 62 people on board, the Interstate Aviation Committee said in a statement on Friday after a preliminary review of flight data.
…Amid high winds, rain and low cloud cover, the crew had disengaged the autopilot and was seeking to land the aircraft manually. After descending to 220 meters (720 feet), the landing procedure was halted and the plane started to climb again with engines at “takeover thrust,” the report said. Then at a height of 900 meters, the plane received “nose-down input” resulting in the abrupt descent that the pilots failed to halt. The reason for the change of direction wasn’t explained. The plane hit the ground at more than 600 kilometers per hour (372 mph).
Of course we do not yet know what caused the pilots to put the plane into nose down position. While the early report suggests that pilot error could have contributed to the crash which occurred in severe weather, we’ll need to wait for a good bit more information to know what happened here. Was the aircraft stalling? Was the downward trajectory intentional or the result of some failure with the aircraft?
The probably cause has yet to be formally determined, and there doesn’t yet seem to be enough information to learn from — which is the most important outcome of any crash investigation, to determine what happened so that it can be avoided in the future and aviation as a whole can be made even more safe.