Investigators looking into the causes of a tragic flydubai crash in Russia more than two years ago have concluded that a combination of bad weather and pilot error were behind the incident.
Flight FZ981, a Boeing 737-800 from Dubai, crashed about 250 metres short of the runway at Rostov-on-Don airport in March 2016 while making a second attempt at landing.
Pilots had aborted the first landing attempt because of high winds and a windshear warning from air traffic control and circled the airport in southern Russia for around two hours.
All those on-board – 55 passengers and seven crew members – were killed when the plane impacted the ground and went up in flames.
The report, released by Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, concluded that the accident was “due to an incorrect aircraft configuration and crew piloting, the subsequent loss of [pilot in command’s] situational awareness in nighttime…This resulted in a loss of control of the aircraft and its impact with the ground”.
Investigators said that “turbulence and gusty wind” probably contributed, along with pilots’ “possible operational tiredness”, “lack of psychological readiness” for a second go-around having “formed out of the ‘emotional distress’ after the first unsuccessful approach” and “the crew’s uncoordinated actions during the second go-around”.
The final report from investigators classified the accident as a “Loss of Control In-Flight occurrence”.
A statement issued by flydubai on the investigators’ findings said that the airline “acknowledges the conclusions and recommendations” from investigators.
Flydubai said it has made a number of operational and safety enhancements since the accident.
The statement read: “Since the accident, our priorities have been to support the bereaved families, to conduct a thorough review of our internal processes and systems, and to support the work of the investigator in-charge. The pursuit of safety enhancements remains central to our operations.”
“At the time of the accident, flydubai was fully compliant with all regulatory requirements. Following a thorough review of the Interim Report, the Draft Final Report and flydubai’s own internal investigation, the airline has, in conjunction with our regulator, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) taken a number of precautionary measures prior to the publication of the Final Report.
“The airline made proactive operational enhancements to both simulator and classroom training to reinforce awareness and enhance understanding of spatial disorientation. Furthermore, flydubai made additions to the manufacturer’s standard operating procedures and manuals. All pilots have been trained on these enhancements which exceed regulatory requirements.”