Dhaka: The captain of a Russian passenger jet was hailed as a hero on August 15 for landing his plane in a cornfield after it collided with a flock of gulls seconds after takeoff, causing both engines to malfunction. While dozens of people sought medical assistance, only one was hospitalised.
The event drew comparisons to the 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson," when a captain ditched his plane in New York's Hudson River after a bird strike disabled his engines.
The Ural Airlines A321 carrying 226 passengers and a crew of seven hit the birds as it was taking off on August 15 from Moscow's Zhukovsky airport en route for Simferopol, in Crimea.
Alexander Neradko, Chief of Russia's Rosaviatsiya State Aviation Agency said that the crew "made the only right decision" to land the fully loaded plane immediately after both of the plane's engines malfunctioned.
The airline said the captain, 41-year old Damir Yusupov, is a highly experienced pilot who has logged over 3,000 flight hours.
Yusupov, a son of a helicopter pilot, worked as a lawyer before he changed course and joined a flight school when he was 32. A father of four, he has flown with the Ural Airlines since his graduation in 2013 and became the captain last year.
The crew received swift accolades. Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, hailed the pilots as "heroes" and said they will receive state awards. And Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev opened a session of Cabinet by praising the crew and asking the transport minister to explain what happened.
The Emergencies Ministry said that 55 people asked for medical assistance after the incident. The health authorities said 23 people, including five children, were taken to the hospital, but all but one was released following check-ups and quick treatment.
Plane engines are designed to withstand occasional bird strikes, but a collision with a flock of birds can result in serious trouble. Bird strikes on planes occur regularly around the world, and airports use bird distress signals, air cannons and other means to chase birds away — measures which aren't always efficient.