On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Ural Airlines Airbus A320 on a routine flight from the Black Sea resort of Sochi to Omsk in southwestern Siberia declared an emergency when it suffered a hydraulics failure. Fearing the Omsk runway was not long enough to make a safe landing the crew was directed to divert for an emergency landing at a Novosibirsk airfield.

On the way to the alternate airfield, the crew realized that the A320 would run out of fuel about 180 kilometers from Novosibirsk and made a decision to make a forced landing in an open field near the village of Kamenka.

The aircraft reportedly suffered minor damage to the landing gear, engines and a wing, but none of the 165 passengers and crew on board were injured.

The commercial aircraft magazine FlightGlobal reported at the end of September that the management of Ural Airlines said it was planning to fly the plane from the field after essential repairs.

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“According to the preliminary technical assessment of specialists, the aircraft is in good condition,” an airline spokesperson said. “The plane is not seriously damaged… tests have shown that the engines do not need repairing and [the aircraft] will probably be able carry out flights in the future.”

He stated that a small quantity of soil was ingested by the aircraft’s engines, which would require several fan-blades to be replaced. The landing-gear attachment points would also need to be repaired, and the evacuation slides to be removed, serviced and eventually re-installed.

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“Several options are being considered to enable the plane to take off from the field,” Ural’s statement said, including removing the aircraft’s seats to make it lighter.

It was further suggested that it would have to stay in the field for several months, under guard, while inspections, maintenance and repairs are carried out.

That’s exactly what happened, as images that began to appear on social media on Tuesday attested – along with much mockery. Typical of this was the Ukraine-born, US resident Igor Sushko, who said on X (formerly Twitter): “Russia is a 3rd world country: 2 months after landing in a field in Siberia, the passenger plane that suffered a failure is still there. A fence has been built around it though.”

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The Ukrainian Telegram Channel Тим часом Україна (Meanwhile, Ukraine) posted: “On Sept. 12, in Siberia, the Russians landed a stolen passenger plane in a field due to a malfunction. That plane is still there. They couldn’t take it away, so they built a fence around it.

If and when the Russian authorities manage to recover the aircraft from the field, observers will watch to see how airworthy it will be. The fact that the Russians are even considering salvaging the airplane relatively intact, rather than stripping it down for parts and chopping it up as they have done in similar circumstances in the past, is perhaps indicative of the paucity of serviceable airframes Russia currently has available.

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The West banned supplies of aircraft and spare parts soon after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, making Western aircraft that were already in Russia a precious resource.

Like other Russian airlines, Ural has kept its fleet of Western jets in the air, importing spare parts via third countries or cannibalizing parts from those incapable of repair without the manufacturers’ approval and certification.

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