62 killed in Russia plane crash, weather may not be to blame
Saturday, March 19, 2016, 6:33 PM - A Boeing 737-800 aircraft crashed in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don early Saturday morning, killing all aboard.
Upon initial investigation, bad weather was considered as a factor in the crash of the plane, operated by FlyDubai as Flight FZ981. However, as of Saturday evening investigators are exploring mechanical failure or pilot error as potential causes of the crash, a representative from Russia's Investigative Committee told ABC News.
"Two theories of the plane crash are being explored... The first one is pilot error in acting in difficult meteorological conditions, and the second is mechanical failure," said Oksana Kovrizhnaya, a spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee's Southern Transport Investigative Department.
Kovrizhnaya noted wind speeds reaching 18 meters per second at the time of the crash, which might have induced a pilot error. Russian authorities say the plane had to abandon an initial landing attempt due to poor weather conditions, and crashed after its second attempt.
"At landing the wing touched the runway, [and] it began to break down and burst into flames," the Investigative Committee of Russia said on its website.
FlyDubai confirmed all 62 people aboard, 55 passengers and seven crew, were killed in the crash.
"At this moment our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our passengers and crew who were on-board the aircraft," a statement from the airline reads. "We are working with the local emergency services and other agencies who are at the scene."
Flightradar24 reported the plane circled for two hours between its attempts to land. After the second attempt, the plane began to fall very sharply, with a vertical speed of 21,000 feet per minute.
Early Saturday, reports believed the cause of the crash likely to be poor weather.
"By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level," Rostov region governor Vasily Golubev said, according to Russian news agencies quoted by the CBC.
CCTV footage purportedly from the crash shows the large explosion as the plane hits the ground, and photographs of the crash site show debris strewn everywhere.
FlyDubai reports the dead include four children. An investigation into the crash's cause is underway.
FZ981 was en route from Dubai. The crash is FlyDubai's first since it was founded in 2009.