Russians Hail ‘Hero’ Pilot After Moscow Emergency Landing

A Russian pilot was being hailed as a hero on Thursday for landing an Airbus carrying more than 230 people in a Moscow cornfield after a bird strike.

The Ural Airlines A321 flying to Crimea hit a flock of seagulls shortly after take-off from Moscow’s Zhukovsky airport on Thursday morning, the Rosaviatsia air transport agency said in a statement.

Birds were sucked into the engines and the crew decided to immediately land, bringing the plane down in the cornfield about a kilometre from the runway, with the engines off and the landing gear retracted.

The aircraft, carrying 226 passengers and seven crew, was evacuated using inflatable ramps.

The health ministry said 23 people were sent to hospital but there were no serious injuries. Only one patient, a 69-year-old woman with moderate injuries, required further hospitalisation, it said.

“It all happened in a few seconds… We took off and came back down,” passenger Irina Usacheva told state television channel Rossiya 24.

Passenger Svetlana Babina said the bird strike could be heard from inside the plane and that the engines started making “strange noises”.

“We have to pay tribute to the pilot, in the circumstances he landed as softly as possible,” she told the RIA Novosti news agency.

“Everyone is alive! The pilot is a genius,” passenger Olga told tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, saying applause broke out following the landing.

The pilot, identified as 41-year-old Yekaterinburg native Damir Yusupov, was praised for his quick thinking.

“The crew of the Ural Airlines flight showed fantastic skill and cool-headedness,” said Yevgeny Kuyvashev, the governor of Yusupov’s home region.

“He and his team saved 233 lives. They are heroes.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also hailed the “hero pilots” who landed the plane.

Illegal dumps near airports

Russia’s investigative committee said it had opened a probe into the incident.

The committee posted a video on its website of the plane on its belly in the field of corn, with the evacuation ramps deployed. Investigators could be seen examining the interior of the cockpit.

The plane had been flying to Simferopol, the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea, a popular summer destination for many Russians.

Zhukovsky, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Moscow city centre, opened in 2016 as Moscow’s fourth international airport. A Soviet-era test flight centre, it hosts the biennial MAKS international aviation show.

Several experts pointed to a growing problem of birds gathering at illegal dumping sites close to Moscow’s airports.

“The problem with birds is enormous,” aviation safety expert Alexander Romanov told RIA Novosti. “It comes from, among other things, landfills that are scattered in violation of all regulations.”

Residents close to Zhukovsky said an illegal landfill was located between the airport and the Moscow river and that seagulls gathered constantly there.

Russia was once notorious for plane accidents but its air traffic safety record has improved in recent years.

The last major accident was in May, when a Sukhoi Superjet belonging to national carrier Aeroflot crash-landed and burst into flames at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, killing 41 people.

The plane, bound for the Arctic city of Murmansk, turned around after being struck by lightning, bounced on the runway on landing and caught fire.

AFP

Cardiff Striker Emiliano Sala On Board A Missing Plane – French Police

This file photo taken on November 25, 2017 shows Nantes’ Argentinian Italian forward Emiliano Sala during the French L1 football match between Stade Rennais (Stade Resnais FC) and Nantes (FC Nantes) at The Roazhon Park in Rennes.

 

British Premier League club Cardiff City’s record new signing, Argentina-born striker Emiliano Sala, was on board a light aircraft that disappeared over the English Channel on Monday night, police sources told AFP.

Sala, signed by Cardiff on Saturday from French club Nantes for a club record fee, was flying to Cardiff aboard a small plane that went missing around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the island of Guernsey.

Customs Seize N7.3bn Worth Of Tramadol, Two Aircraft

 

The Nigeria Customs Service on Thursday seized 40-foot containers loaded with tramadol and other drugs from India worth N7, 318,978,065.00.

According to a statement by the spokesman for the service, Joseph Attah, officers also intercepted a helicopter and an aircraft from the United States of America over failure to provide end-user certificate and other documents.

Attah explained that the arrest was made possible following intelligence and collaboration with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NAFDAC).

The statement read v in part, “It is in line with the determination to fight this ugly trend that the Apapa Command of the Service intercepted 40 X 40 feet containers, mostly from India, laden with Tramadol and other pharmaceutical products with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of Seven Billion, Three Hundred and Eighteen Million, Nine Hundred And Seventy-Eight Thousand And Sixty-Five (N7,318,978,065.00) Naira only.”

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (retired) also reiterated his commitment to boosting revenue for the Federal Government and also tracking down criminals, especially illegal drug dealers.

He said, “The service is not only making concerted efforts to ensure that only maximum revenue is collected but also to safeguard the security and well-being of the citizenry.

“We are all aware of the dangers that the deliberate non-compliance to import and export procedures pose to our nation as importers bring in all manner of items which put the security and health of the nation at great risk.

“Terrorists, kidnappers and other criminal elements get hold of these goods such as controlled drugs to perpetrate their heinous activities.”

Speaking further, the customs boss decried a situation whereby some importers would induce officers of the service with lucrative money in a desperate move to import harmful products into the country.

He said, “Importers of this items offered bribes to the tune of N150 million to my officers to effect the release of just one container with promises of even bigger sums to follow in the event that, their first attempt succeeds.

“The Officers played along and eventually arrested three suspects with the money. Let me assure you that the on-going investigation will be thorough to bring all those remotely connected to justice.”

On the seized aircraft, Ali said the action violates Section 36 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA),Cap C45, LFN2004.

He explained that Investigations are on-going to fish out the owner(s) of the helicopter and the second aircraft, a Cessna 182A imported from the US.

Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier Damaged As Floating Dock Sinks

A picture was taken on August 19, 2009, shows Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in Murmansk. One person was missing and four others were injured on October 30, 2018, after a giant floating dock carrying Russia’s only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov sunk at a shipyard near Russia’s Arctic city Murmansk. photo: Vasily MAXIMOV / AFP

 

Russia’s only aircraft carrier was damaged and a giant floating dock sank after a crane crashed onto the vessel as it was undergoing repairs near the Arctic city of Murmansk on Tuesday.

Four people were injured and one person is missing after the accident involving the Admiral Kuznetsov at the PD-50 floating dock, the largest in Russia one of the largest in the world, local authorities and media said.

“We are assessing the extent of the damage. A crane fell onto the deck from a height of about 15 meters (45 feet),” the head of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov told the TASS news agency.

“It is clear there is damage to the hull and the deck. Fortunately, it happened on those parts that are not vital to the work of the” ship.

Local media said the floating dock holding the vessel had sunk.

The accident occurred at 3:30 am at the repair shipyard near Murmansk, the governor of Murmansk region Marina Kovtun said in a video she posted on social media.

“Unfortunately, one person is still not found,” she said.

“Four workers were removed from the water with signs of frostbite and taken to a medical facility,” the regional branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement on its website.

It added that the accident could be the result of “violations in the operation” of ship repair facilities.

The Admiral Kuznetsov is undergoing its first major repairs since 1997. They are expected to be completed by the end of 2020 for the warship to rejoin the Russian Navy in 2021.

The vessel was deployed to the Mediterranean last year to strike targets in Syria and help Moscow ally President Bashar al-Assad recapture rebel-held areas in the war-torn country.

AFP

Pilot Dies As NAF Aircraft Crash In Abuja

Scenes from the site of the aircrash

 

Two aircraft of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) have been involved in an accident.

This was disclosed on Friday in a statement signed by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola.

Daramola said the air accident occurred during rehearsals for the Independence day celebrations.

“I wish to confirm an air incident involving 2 Nigerian Air Force aircraft taking part in the rehearsals for the 58th Independence Day Celebrations,” he said.

Daramola did not state if the accident was a collision or a crash.

READ ALSO: Minimum Wage: Unions Shut Down Operations At General Aviation Terminal Of Lagos Airport

One of the aircraft was reported to have gone up in flames before it eventually crashed.

The Nigerian Air Force in a different press release later on Friday announced the death of one of its pilots who was involved in an accident.

NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, made the announcement on Friday.

“It is with a heavy heart that I regretfully announce that one of the pilots who successfully ejected from one of the F-7Ni aircraft that crashed earlier today has passed on. May his soul RIP,” Daramola said.

Air Peace Gets New Boeing 777 Aircraft

Air Peace Aircraft Collide At Lagos Airport
File photo.

 

Nigeria’s domestic carrier, Air Peace airlines, has taken delivery of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft as part of plans to launch its long-haul operations.

Considered as one of the most advanced machines in the aviation industry, the aircraft which touched down at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on Monday, makes Air Peace the first Nigerian airline to own two of the wide-body jetliners in the country.

Its Chief Operating Officer, Oluwatoyin Olajide, said the expansion of routes by the airline will also create more employment opportunities for Nigerians.

Some of the new routes include: Houston, London, Dubai, Mumbai, China and Johannesburg.

First China-Made Aircraft Carrier Starts Sea Trials

 

First China-Made Aircraft Carrier Starts Sea Trials
China’s first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier, known only as “Type 001A”, leaves port in the northeast city of Dalian early on May 13, 2018. AFP Photo.

 

China’s first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier started sea trials Sunday, state media said, a landmark in Beijing’s ambitious plans to modernise its navy as the Asian giant presses its claims in disputed regional waters.

The carrier, known only as “Type 001A”, set out for the trials from a port in northeastern China at around 6.45 am (2245 GMT Saturday), according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Expected to be commissioned by 2020, the ship will give China a second aircraft carrier as it asserts its claims in the South China Sea and seeks to deter any independence movements in Taiwan.

Footage aired by CCTV showed the imposing carrier accompanied by several smaller military craft leaving a wharf and heading out to sea.

It is the first time the ship’s engine, propulsion and navigation systems will be tested at sea, state media said, a year after it first took to the water at its official launch.

AFP Photo

 

China’s sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is a repurposed Soviet ship bought from Ukraine, which went into service in 2012.

Neither the Liaoning or the new ship are nuclear powered, but both can carry around 40 planes and have similar “ski jump” ramps, an old launch system that forces aircraft to carry fewer weapons in order to hold more fuel for take-off.

The possession of a homegrown aircraft carrier — which the defence ministry has said displaces 55,000 tonnes — places China among the few military powers with such vessels, including the United States, Russia and Britain.

But it would still be no match in size or range to the nuclear-powered vessels of the United States Navy, which has 11 carriers.

China’s warships will enable it to “project its power and influence in its neighbourhood”, Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), told AFP.

Chinese state media have been speculating that a third aircraft carrier is in the works, but the defence ministry has yet to confirm this.

However, even with the potential development of further carriers, it could still be years before China’s navy is able to deploy its fleet effectively, said Tsang.

“With the Chinese carriers substantially inferior in capacity to the US super-carriers, the balance of forces between the two navies will only change marginally rather than substantially,” he said.

Territorial disputes

Beijing has embarked on an extensive project to build a “blue water” navy and modernise its two million-strong military, the world’s largest.

China’s defence budget rose 8.1 percent to 1.1 trillion yuan ($175 billion) in 2018, but it is still only about a quarter that of the United States.

The Liaoning has conducted a series of manoeuvres with dozens of other ships, submarines and aircraft in the South China Sea in recent weeks.

In March it sailed through the Taiwan Strait, prompting Taipei to dispatch ships and planes to track the vessel, on the same day Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against what he called any attempts to split China.

Beijing sees democratically governed Taiwan as a renegade part of its territory to be brought back into the fold and has not ruled out reunification by force.

China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have claims to the South China Sea, while Beijing also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.

The US, meanwhile, regularly conducts “freedom of navigation” naval operations near artificial islands in the South China Sea to challenges Beijing’s claims.

AFP

We Observed Aircraft Flying Low Over Synagogue Building Before Collapse, Police Tell Court

 

Synagogue
File photo of the scene of the Synagogue Church building which collapsed in 2014.

 

The Synagogue Church of All Nations has opened its defence on a charge of building without approval brought against it by the Lagos State.

An Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Alaba Yahaya Haruna, who testified on Friday, told a Lagos High Court hearing the case that one of his patrol teams observed an aircraft flying low over the building located in the Ikotun Egbe area just before it collapsed.

Haruna, an Area Commander of the Eastern Ports Command, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Ikotun Egbe Police Station, Lagos, at the time the building collapsed.

The registered trustees of the church are facing trial alongside two engineers who built the building: Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited.

READ ALSO: Osun Govt Committed To Airport Project, Despite Failure Of Concession Arrangement – Aregbesola

They are facing 110 counts of involuntary manslaughter following the collapse of one of the Church buildings in September 2014, which led to the death of 116 people.

Led in evidence by the Church’s counsel, Oluseye Diyan, the witness relived the incident.

“On that fateful day on September 12, 2014 at about 12:30 hours, there was a radio communication from the police control room at Ikeja that they were receiving calls from the public of an aircraft flying at low altitude over the church. I was directed by the Area Command to confirm the incident and monitor the aircraft’s activities.

“I wanted to go out and direct my men to watch out for the aircraft when I received another report of an airplane flying at a very low altitude. I went outside but I couldn’t see it, by that time it had gone. I received a call later from Inspector Lucky Ugbaja, stationed at the church that one of the church’s buildings had collapsed,” Haruna explained.

According to him, the radio room had earlier called the Police Airport Command to confirm whether it was carrying out any activity in the SCOAN vicinity.

Haruna said when he arrived the church’s premises there was a large crowd and the few policemen there were trying to manage the situation. More onlookers kept trooping in and the crowd spilled to the roads outside the church, causing serious traffic gridlock.

“We were overwhelmed,” Haruna told the judge, adding that he called for more policemen, which was provided.

He said his men cordoned off the scene in an attempt to restrict entrance to only those who could assist the church members and other worshippers in the rescue operation.

“Those I met there were SCOAN worshippers, they were bringing out so many people from under the rubble. Most of the victims were alive. Some were injured, some were not.

“Later, the Red Cross, Life Savers, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) arrived and joined us in the rescue,” Haruna added.

The witness stated that the LASEMA General Manager complained of difficulty in gaining access to the scene of the collapse because of the crowd and that the journalists in his entourage were denied access, following which he apologised and ordered his men to let the journalists in.

He said the rescue mission lasted about seven days.

During Cross Examination by the prosecution counsel, Babajide Martins, the police officer insisted that he could not recall any instance when LASEMA officials, or the then Commissioner for Physical Planning, Toyin Ayinde, were prevented by the church members from gaining access to the collapse site.

“Apart from the LASEMA GM who said he had a Herculean task passing through the crowd, others had no problems passing through.

When asked why he concluded that the rescuers were church members or worshippers, Haruna said “commonsense suggests that they were.”

Following the prosecution’s application for an adjournment, Justice Lawal-Akapo adjourned further proceedings till June 28.

Air Force Acquires More Aircraft, Promises Better Welfare

Air ForceThe Nigerian Air Force says it has recorded 300% increase of serviceable aircraft to address the current national security threat in Nigeria.

Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said this during the commissioning ceremony of staff accommodation in Kano’s Air Force base.

He said that Government is determined to reposition the Nigerian Air Force into a highly professional service through capacity building.

Accompanied by top ranking officers, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said that the Nigerian Air Force must continue to remain vibrant towards the nation’s air defence.Aircraft

He added that in order to achieve that, officers and men of the service also need to have a robust welfare package that will make them comfortable in confronting any kind of security threat.

Officers and men of the service had lacked adequate accommodation for mostly their family, a problem Sadique said is capable of dividing their attention in executing their duties.

To him, accommodation, healthcare facilities, capacity building among others should come first in any security institution across the country.

Meanwhile, the Air Chief has said that accommodation package for the personnel would continue across all Air Force bases across the country.

He added that with better welfare and equipment, there would be no hiding place for criminals.

Australia, Others To Try New System In Search Of Flight MH370

mh370Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia are to try a new method of tracking planes, almost a year after a Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, carrying 239 people, disappeared en route Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The trial system enables planes to be tracked every 15 minutes, an increase on the current 30 to 40 minutes.

Extensive search has been carried out to contact the flight MH370, since it disappeared in March 2014.

The new tracking device uses technology already installed on most long-haul jets.

The system is expected to increase the tracking rate to five minutes or less if there is any deviation from a plane’s expected route.

‘No silver bullet’

Australian Transport Minister, Warren Truss, said the new system was a “world first”. But he stressed the new technology would not necessarily have solved the mystery of MH370.

“It would have been very difficult, one would imagine, without knowing what precisely occurred in the case of flight MH370, to have intervened from outside,” he said.

“But at least it would have tracked the aircraft to within 15 minutes.”

Airservices Australia Chairman Angus Houston, who helped lead the search for the missing MH370, agreed it was “no silver bullet”.

“But it is an important step in delivering immediate improvements to the way we currently track aircraft while more comprehensive solutions are developed,” Angus Houston added.

The trial will begin in the Australian city of Brisbane before being extended to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Investigators searching for flight MH370 are focusing on an area of the Indian Ocean off the coast of western Australia.

Flight MH370, which is said to be operating a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, last had contact with air traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.

Air Algerie Crash: French Officials Say Bad Weather Likely Cause

airline 3Poor weather was the most likely cause of the crash of an Air Algerie flight over the West African state of Mali with 116 people on board, French officials said on Friday.

Investigators at the scene of the crash had concluded the airliner broke apart when it hit the ground, the officials said, suggesting the plane was unlikely to have been the victim of an attack.

“The aircraft was destroyed at the moment it crashed,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio of the wreckage of the plane carrying 51 French nationals which crashed in Mali near the border with Burkina Faso on Thursday.

“We think the aircraft crashed for reasons linked to the weather conditions. No theory can be excluded at this point … but that is indeed the most likely theory,” he added.

Separately, Transport Minister, Frederic Cuvillier, said the strong smell of aircraft fuel at the crash site and the fact that the debris was scattered over a relatively small area also suggested the cause of the crash was linked to weather, a technical problem or a combination of such factors.

“We exclude – and have done so from the start – any ground strike,” Cuvillier told France 2 television.

He added that a column of 100 soldiers from the French force stationed in the region were on their way to secure the crash site near the northern town of Gossi. France deployed troops to Mail last year to halt an al Qaeda-backed insurgency.

Algeria’s national airline lost contact with the plane flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers across the Sahara about  50 minutes after take-off from Ouagadougou.

The Flight AH 5017 has 110 passengers and 6 crew on board, Spanish airline, Swiftair, who owns the plane, said.

An unnamed Air Algerie company source, told AFP news agency on Thursday that “the plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route. Contact was lost after the change of course”.

Burkina Faso authorities said the passenger list included 51 French, 27 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two from Luxembourg, one Cameroonian, one Belgian, one Egyptian, one Ukranian, one Swiss, one Nigerian and one Malian. Crash site investigators saw no survivors.

 

Hamas And Israel Resume Hostilities After Humanitarian Cease Fire

A Palestinian family gathers inside their damaged home, which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza CityPalestinians rushed to shops and banks on Thursday as a five-hour humanitarian truce agreed by Israel and Hamas came into force, hours after the Israeli military said it had fought off gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza.

About a dozen Palestinian fighters tunnelled under the border, emerging near an Israeli community. At least one was killed when an Israeli aircraft bombed the group, the military said.

The break in 10 days of fighting was requested by the United Nations to allow residents of the Gaza strip, ruled by the Hamas group viewed by Israel as terrorists, to gather supplies and repair some of the infrastructure damaged.

At least 224 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, Gaza health officials say. In Israel, one civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza, where the Israeli military says more than 1,300 rockets have been launched into the Jewish state in strikes that have made a race to shelters a routine for hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel’s military, which government officials said was poised to expand its air and naval bombardments into possible ground operations, said it would respond “firmly and decisively” if militants launched attacks during the truce.

In Gaza City, hundreds of Palestinian lined up outside banks to collect salaries paid directly into their accounts, while others went food shopping. Gaza roads almost deserted over days of conflict were filled again with traffic.

“We are here to get paid. Thank God for the calm and we hope it lasts,” said Zakaria Ahmed, 35. “We hope Egypt brings a good truce, we hope the killing will stop and (Gaza’s border) crossings will open.”

After the early morning clash over the tunnel, and before the five-hour ceasefire began, air raid sirens sounded across Israel, including in the Tel Aviv area, the country’s heartland, warning of a heavy barrage of incoming rockets.

The military said that at least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and another fell in a town near Tel Aviv. There were no reports of casualties.

Also, before the pause in fighting, an Israeli aircraft bombed a house in Rafah in southern Gaza, killing three people and wounding several others, medical officials said.

However, Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian militants have since the resumed hostilities in Gaza after the temporary humanitarian cease-fire came to an end.

 

There were no reports of violations of the truce but U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories, James Rawley told VOA that the violence resumed shortly after the cease-fire expired.

“Rockets have been going out of Gaza and airstrikes and naval bombardment has resumed on Gaza,” he said, “so once again the people of Gaza are suffering and probably dying, and the people of Israel are also being victimized by rockets and mortars going out of Gaza”, he said.