Ural Airlines plane makes 'miracle' emergency landing

At least 23 people injured as pilot was forced to land plane in a cornfield shortly after takeoff

    Ural Airlines plane makes 'miracle' emergency landing
    The plane landed with its engines off and landing gear retracted [Moscow News Agency via Reuters]

    A passenger jet made an emergency landing in a cornfield outside of one of Moscow's airports after colliding with a flock of birds.

    The Airbus A321 aircraft of Ural Airlines was carrying 226 passengers and seven crew members from Moscow's Zhukovsky airport to Simferopol in Russia-annexed Crimea, the Rosaviatsia air transport agency said in a statement.

    "There was an emergency landing in Zhukovsky. Birds got into both engines. Engines turned off, the crew carried out the landing ... one kilometre away from the runway," TASS state news agency quoted the airlines' general director, Sergei Skuratov, as saying.

    The Ministry of Health said 23 people were injured, including nine children.

    The plane landed in a cornfield, with its engines off and landing gear retracted, the agency added.

    A 'miracle'

    State television said the manoeuvre by the airline's pilot was being dubbed the "miracle over Ramensk".

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    The Komsomolskaya Pravda lauded pilot Damir Yusupov as a "hero", saying he had saved 233 lives, "having masterfully landed a plane without its landing gear with a failing engine right in a cornfield".

    Aviation safety specialist David Learmount, in a Skype interview with Al Jazeera, drew comparisons of the incident with US Airways flight 1549 which performed a landing on the Hudson River in 2009 after striking a flock of geese.

    He said that incidents like these happened "very rarely". Learmount added that despite the situation being very fortunate, "the pilots handled it extremely well".

    An unnamed passenger interviewed by state television said the plane started to shake violently shortly after the take-off.

    "Five seconds later, the lights on the right side of the plane started flashing and there was a smell of burning. Then we landed and everyone ran away," he said.

    Passengers were evacuated on inflatable ramps, with some taken to the hospital and others back to the airport.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies