Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise Flight 514
RA-85684, the aircraft involved
|Date||7 September 2010|
|Summary||In-flight loss of electrical system|
Izhma Airport |
|Aircraft type||Tupolev Tu-154M|
|Flight origin||Polyarny Airport, Udachny|
|Destination||Domodedovo International Airport, Moscow|
Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise Flight 514 was a domestic scheduled passenger flight from Udachny, Russia, to Moscow. On 7 September 2010, the Tupolev Tu-154M RA-85684 aircraft suffered a complete electrical failure en route, leading to a loss of navigational systems. The electrically operated fuel transfer pumps were also affected, meaning that the aircraft was unable to reach its intended destination. An emergency landing was carried out at the closed Izhma Airport. The aircraft overran the disused runway on landing and was damaged. All nine crew and 72 passengers escaped unharmed. The crew of Flight 514 were decorated for their actions in the accident.
Flight 514 was over Usinsk, at an altitude of 10,600 m (FL 348) when the first signs of a problem were noticed at about 06:59 local time (02:59 UTC). Later, a complete loss of electrical systems occurred, which resulted in the loss of navigational systems and the loss of electric fuel pumps, leaving the aircraft with just 3,300 kilograms (7,300 lb) of usable fuel, enough for just 30 minutes flight. The loss of the electrically driven pumps prevented transfer of fuel from the wing tanks to the engine supply tank in the fuselage. At about 07:47, the emergency authorities at Izhma were informed that the aircraft may be making an emergency landing at the airport there. Izhma Airport is a former airfield that is now used only for helicopters, and the 1,325-metre-long (4,347 ft) runway is closed and abandoned. The airfield, having closed to fixed-wing aircraft in 2003, was not marked on then-current maps.
The passengers were moved to the front of the aircraft. The electrical failure also caused a loss of the radio system, flaps and slats. Two attempts to land were aborted. On the third attempt, a successful emergency landing was made at Izhma at 07:55 local time. The aircraft overran the runway by 160 metres (520 ft), and sustained some damage in the process. The aircraft landed at a speed of 350 to 380 kilometres per hour (190 to 210 kn), faster than normal, due to the lack of flaps. Although the flaps are powered by hydraulics, the switches operating them are electrical. All nine crew and 72 passengers evacuated using the aircraft's evacuation slides. No injuries were reported.
Weather at the time was overcast, with a visibility of 22 kilometres (12 nmi), temperature was 2 °C (36 °F), dewpoint 1 °C (34 °F), humidity 85%, wind from the north-west at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph). The successful emergency landing was hailed as a miracle by Russian aviation experts.
There were conflicting reports describing the extent of the damage to the plane, from minimal to substantial. The aircraft requires 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) of runway to take-off, but the runway at Izhma is only 1,325 metres (4,347 ft) long. Nevertheless, the airline planned to eventually return the plane to operation. After repairs and being stripped of unnecessary weight, the aircraft was loaded with the minimal necessary amount of fuel; it was reported on March 11, 2011, that the plane had been flown out of the airfield.
After evacuating the aircraft and while awaiting rescue, some of the passengers searched for mushrooms, a popular pastime in Russia. The survivors were temporarily housed in a sports complex at Izhma, due to a lack of hotel space locally. They were later flown by Mil Mi-8 helicopter to Ukhta Airport, where a replacement Tupolev Tu-154 flew them on to Moscow. Two passengers decided to continue their journey by rail instead. The passengers of Flight 514 called for the flight crew to be honoured for their actions. The crew remained in Ukhta to assist authorities with their investigation into the accident. Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin met the crew and thanked them for their "heroic, decisive and professional actions" in the accident. He also paid tribute to their courage.
On 23 September, it was reported that consideration was being given to flying the aircraft out of Izhma. The aircraft was to be stripped of unnecessary weight and loaded with the minimal necessary amount of fuel before a take-off attempt was made. On 23 March 2011, it was reported that the repaired aircraft had been flown out of Izhma airfield, with video available showing the take-off. The aircraft was flown to Ukhta, Komi Republic. After inspection, the aircraft was to be flown to Samara where further work was scheduled to be undertaken before the aircraft returns to service with Alrosa.
Russian authorities launched an investigation into the accident. A preliminary report was expected to be published after 10 days. On 14 September 2010, the report indicated that the batteries had self-overheated, suffering a thermal runaway. This affected the entire electrical system, navigation system and radio system.
The pilots of Flight 514, Andrei Lamanov and Yevgeny Novoselov, were made Heroes of the Russian Federation. The other seven crew members were awarded Orders of Courage. The order awarding the decorations was signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The landing could only be successful because the airport superior, Sergey Sotnikov, even after the airport was closed to traffic in 2003, was keeping the landing strip free of trees and bushes. Sotnikov was later decorated by the President of Russia.
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