Russian jet flies into flock of birds, crash-lands in cornfield

A Russian passenger jet crash-landed in a cornfield outside of Moscow’s Zhukovsky airport on Thursday — injuring more than 70 people, including 10 children and a pregnant woman — following a mid-air collision with a flock of birds, officials said.

The Airbus A321 aircraft was carrying 226 passengers and being flown by pilots for Ural Airlines when it “collided with a flock of gulls” shortly after takeoff, according to officials.

“Birds got into both engines,” said the airline’s general director, Sergei Skuratov, in a statement to the TASS Russian news agency. “Engines turned off, the crew carried out the landing … one kilometre away from the runway.”

The “emergency landing,” as officials called it, left 74 people needing medical attention — 29 of whom had to be hospitalized, according to TASS.

Ten children and a pregnant woman were said to be among the injured.

Photos and video posted online Thursday showed the plane sitting in a cornfield, with giant skid marks behind it from where it came to a screeching halt. It had been traveling from Zhukovsky airport to Simferopol, a city on the Crimean Peninsula, when the incident occurred.

Ural Airlines released a statement afterwards, praising pilots Damir Yusupov, 41, and Georgy Murzin, 23, for managing to bring the giant aircraft down safely, without any casualties.

“Precisely due to their professionalism, self-possession and coordinated actions (they) managed to land a plane without tragic consequences,” Ural Airlines said in a statement.

The close call comes just months after 41 people were killed on a Russian Aeroflot SU1492 jet that made a crash-landing in Moscow. Two passengers were also killed a little while after that, in June, on a Angara Airlines flight in Siberia that overshot a runway and caught fire.

With Post wires