A320 May Fly Out Of Field


The Aviation Herald is reporting that Ural Airlines appears to be getting ready to fly an A320 out of a Russian field where it landed a week ago. The publication, citing local observers, said the aircraft has been jacked out of the ruts it dug in the soft ground, the engines serviced and covered and all the emergency slides stowed. The story included a photo of the buttoned-up airplane, saying it was taken on Sept. 17. The Herald said the airline announced Sept. 17 that the aircraft will fly again “soon” but didn’t give a timeline. Presumably the takeoff will have to wait until the ground has firmed up, perhaps with colder fall temperatures.

The Herald has uncovered new details about the events that led to the off-airport landing. It was initially reported that the flight diverted from its intended destination of Omsk because of a hydraulic failure. The Herald is now saying the hydraulics failed during a weather-related go-around. The crew calculated there was enough fuel to get to Novosibirsk, about 300 miles east, but the gear may not have retracted properly, leaving the nosegear doors open. The resulting drag chewed up the fuel supply, and local authorities said there was less than 500 pounds of fuel (about five minutes of flying time) left when the plane landed about 100 miles from its new destination. The only damage was to the nosegear, and none of the 167 people onboard was hurt.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. Yes Russ I mentioned The Aviation Herald coverage of a possible flout in a comment on AvWeb’s earlier story. You’re welcome.

  2. Recipe for disaster! Lots of things don’t sound right. Do Russians not have diversion+ fuel reserves? Drag from nose doors surely not enough to kill 300kms! Not to mention the extremely dangerous attempt to fly it out of an ordinary grass field. There have been several successful landings of large aircraft on grass airfields, notably the Comet and 2 Vulcans at RAF Halton, but none of them flew OUT.

  3. Not happening. Fifty ton tanks with far less ground pressure over their treads get mired in all but absolutely frozen conditions. Your typical runway at a major airport is at least 10 inches of concrete over an aggregate subgrade; some runways are as thick as 48 inches. Disassemble and truck it out gents…

  4. Pretty interesting that they’re A: going to attempt to fly it out even when the ground freezes up some and then B: fuel? Only 500 lbs onboard. It’s going to need much more than that to do anything other then running the engines for the approximate 5 mins of flight time left. Guessing some poor souls are going to have to run those 5 gallon fuel containers a lot! lol glad it’s not me!! Haha

  5. Quite a daring venture.

    My closest exposure to daring on this level was the summer of 1983. We were the first Reeve Aleutian flight to land on Shemya AFB after a C-5 Galaxy came up way short on the non-ILS approach to the island an few days earlier and slammed into a cliff edge at the runway. There was no under-run for the runway. The Galaxy lost everything from the main gear back to the rear cargo doors. It remained on the runway closing nearly half the runway for months, flights still landed on the other half. They rebuilt everything back minus gear doors and I seem to recall cargo doors were not rebuilt. They flew the Galaxy gear down back to the mainland, Georgia I was lead to believe. I would think Sacramento would be a better choice but I believe Georgia was the major C-5 repair base in those days.

    Good luck to these daring pilots. Hope to read a positive result to their adventure.

  6. No baggage, cargo, food, lavatory fluids, cabin crew and an hours worth of fuel would probably be light enough to get out. Hopefully there will be plenty of videos of it on Youtube.

  7. Winter in that part of the world would sure make the soil hard as nails. Just ask, if you could, Napoleon and Hitler’s generals, about that. Look forward to eventually seeing any video of the takeoff.

  8. Roll the field at the first freeze-up and a couple of times more when softer. After a month it will be smooth and hard, as concrete. I have to assume it will have 20 degrees of frost or more for at least the month.

  9. So if the soft field they are going to attempt to fly out of is so soft How come they made such a good landing on it? why didnt theplane with that much weight (passengers and luggage if not any fuel!) plow a few ruts on landing?
    didn’t we land real heavy planes on mud strips durring WWII ?
    They could put on some tundra tires like a really big bush plane or maybe some skies, ok not going to happen but an A320 with tundra tires would be a funny picture …..