Airliner went down as it tried to land in Russia's Rostov-on-Don in bad weather
In Russia's Rostov-on-Don, mourners continue to lay flowers in memory of the victims of flight 981. The FlyDubai airliner crashed at the city's airport early Saturday morning (March 19) during a second landing attempt.
All 62 people on board – 55 passengers and 7 crew - lost their lives. Bad weather conditions are being blamed for the tragedy although pilot error is also being investigated as a factor according to local authorities. Both of the plane's flight recorders have been recovered undamaged says the investigative committee.
Investigative Committee Spokesperson, Oksana Kovrizhnaya: "In spite of the harsh weather conditions the examination of the accident site continues. During this process the remains of bodies are being taken to be forwarded for identification through forensic and genetic tests. Two flight recorders have also been discovered during the site examination - a voice recorder and a parametric recorder. They have also been forwarded to specialists for deciphering."
Investigative Committee Spokesperson, Oksana Kovrizhnaya: "The investigation is currently looking into two main versions for the plane crash, a mistake by the pilot due to the harsh weather conditions or a malfunction in the plane."
Among those on board 44 were Russian. Two were Indian nationals, one was Uzbek and 8 were Ukrainian. In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, President Petro Poroshenko extended his condolences to the crash victims and held a moment of silence.
Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko: "Unfortunately, today we have very sad news from Ankara and from Russia. In Ankara there was a terrorist attack and in Russia in Rostov, a Boeing 737 passenger jet operated by Flydubai this morning crashed when landing in Rostov, Russian Federation, right near our border and all 62 people onboard were killed. And among these 62 people we have 8 Ukrainians. And let us mourn the memory of those who perished with a moment of silence."
At FlyDubai headquarters meanwhile the company states it has no information to indicate the pilot issued a distress call. It confirms both the pilot and co-pilot each had over 5,000 hours of flight experience. The CEO says it is too soon to say what happened.
Flydubai Ceo Ghaith Al-Ghaith: "So from our point of view, there could be any various (eds note: refers to reasons for crash) of these things, of course we will know by the time the investigation finishes. As far as we know the airport was open and we were good to operate. That's what we know now. What was the weather exactly and how did that effect this unfortunate accident is too early to tell."
Flydubai Ceo Ghaith Al-Ghaith: "On behalf of everyone at Flydubai, I would like to express the devastation we all feel in relation to this morning's tragic event in Rostov on Don. Our primary concern is for the passenger and the crew involved at this stage. Everyone in our company is in deep shock and our hearts go out to all loved ones of those involved."
Dubai's civil aviation authority says it is sending an investigative team to Russia. The crash is the budget airline's first since it started flying in May 2009. It last suffered a major safety incident when one of its planes was shot at while landing at Baghdad airport on in January last year.