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Russian Airliner Stranded in Siberian Field May Attempt Takeoff When Ground Freezes

The Airbus A320 is one of several western airliners Russia effectively stole when sanctions hit, which means they probably can't spare it.
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An Airbus A320 operated by Ural Airlines performed a safe emergency landing in an open field outside of the Russian city of Novosibirsk on Sept. 12 following a hydraulic failure. No injuries were reported despite there being 167 passengers on board, but now there’s an Airbus stuck in a field that has to be addressed.

It’s plausible that the plane might simply be scrapped for parts. However, rumors are swirling that the aircraft will have to take off from the same field where it landed as soon as the Siberian winter arrives to harden the plane’s new-found runway.

The situation began to unfold on the 12th when the A320 inbound from Sochi circled Omsk airport in preparation to land. Either poor weather or the aforementioned hydraulic gremlins meant the plane abandoned this landing attempt, intending to head for the longer runway in Novosibirsk. Its nose gear, however, was stuck down. With the extra associated drag, the aircraft consumed far more fuel than anticipated. The crew realized they wouldn’t make it to Novosibirsk, and decided to ditch in a nearby field instead. The landing went about as well as it possibly could have, but the plane is now allegedly stuck in the mud, albeit more or less intact.

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Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the plane may well have simply been scrapped. That’s what happened to Ural Airlines Flight 178 outside of Moscow in 2019. A bird strike shortly after takeoff led the pilots to land in a nearby cornfield. As with this most recent incident, there were no serious injuries. However, with no easy way to remove the plane from the maize, the A321 was written off and removed from the field in pieces.

The 19-year-old A320 in Novosibirsk may have normally faced a similar fate, but the Airbus in this case is suddenly a hot commodity. It was formerly owned by SMBC Aviation Capital, but when sanctions came down hard on Russia, the Eurasian country decided it was going to keep it, along with dozens of other Western-built airliners. Now that it effectively stole all of these planes, nobody besides Russian manufacturers are keen on giving the country any more passenger aircraft.

That leads us to now. According to Airlive, the plane has been spotted with its slides stowed and a ground power unit connected, which means crews are likely attempting to power it up. A further report Sept. 25 by Breaking Aviation News & Videos seems to corroborate this report, and further claims that a takeoff will be attempted “when the ground freezes over.” No exact date was provided.

Needless to say, Airbus A320s do not typically take off from frozen fields in Siberia. If it does end up happening, I just hope somebody has a camera to capture the spectacle.

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