What Happened to the Boeing 737 that Crashed in Russia Last Night

A flydubai Boeing 737-800 (aircraft A6-FDN), flight FZ-981 from Dubai to Rostov on Don, Russia crashed last night 55 passengers and 7 crew onboard. My thoughts are with the 62 souls, all lost on impact.

I took a flydubai 737 from Colombo to Dubai last month and had a great experience. Very professional. I had no concerns, and wouldn’t have any at this point either. I enjoyed the crew and the trip very much.

Weather last night near Rostov on Don 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.

They commenced another approach to runway 22. With winds at 27 knots, gusting to 42 knots, they made another go around. The plane should have had more than 2 hours worth of fuel left at the time of the incident, so there was no fuel pressure to make a risky landing.

Via One Mile at a Time, Aeroflot flight SU1166 diverted to Krasnodar International Airport 157 miles away between the time of the flydubai aircraft’s first and second landing attempts.

The flydubai aircraft had descended to 1500 feet when it climbed back to about 4000 feet and then began a rapid descent where the aircraft struck the ground in under a minute. The aircraft’s wing struck the runway. The plane burst into flames.

Here’s the remarkably calm air traffic control recording in the minutes prior to the crash.

This is security footage showing the impact of the crash:

We don’t know what happened yet as the aircraft descended. There’s been plenty of speculation, such as heavy icing at lower altitudes without taking anti-icing measures. The wind could have been a strong contributing factor. But we just don’t know for certain at this point, and won’t for awhile.

For now, we can only mourn the loss and trust that we’ll learn from the crash and make air travel even safer in the future.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Video footage, if genuine, appears to show flames coming from it prior to impact. There are reports that it may have had a wing strike on go-around. As for the wind, although gusting it appears that it was almost directly down the runway, which woudl be within the flight parameters for the aircraft. Winds were reported as being 230 Degrees and the runway is 220 Dregrees

  2. Where did the two hours worth of fuel estimate come from? Seems that would depend on how much they fueled up in Dubai.

  3. Tragic, of course….

    But when even Aeroflot has decided to divert, making another attempt at landing seems foolhardy.

  4. Tragic. My heart goes out to the family and friends of all lost in this event.

    One wonders why the flight didn’t divert to another airport.

    For what it’s worth, the times I flew flydubai (between Dubai and Kabul) it seemed perfectly fine in terms of its (new) aircraft, its personnel and systems, and the little I could tell about its security procedures. I believe its the low-cost affiliate of Emirates.

  5. RIP
    It’s a big loss tragic for all My heart goes out to the family and friends of all lost in flight FZ981.

  6. If the plane really crashed, where’re big parts? All I can see on photos from crash site, is a small wreckage… I mean, usually we can see big fragments, like engines or wheel systems or even whole plane’s tail? Where are they?

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