Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Near Disaster for Passenger Flight in the Syrian War Zone

Photo from The Aviation Herald
No matter what one's politics, the good news being reported out of Syria today is about the heroic accomplishments of the pilots in command of Syrianair Flight #501. They are to be commended for saving the lives of the 200 passengers on the plane by safely landing a crippled airliner after an inflight collision with a military helicopter.

This dramatic photo from The Aviation Herald shows how the top half of the vertical stabilizer of a Syrianair A-320 was sheared off on September 20th, as the plane was flying near Damascus International Airport.

A statement attributed to the spokesman for the Information Ministry said, "The helicopter struck the tail of the plane. The control tower at  Damascus airport confirmed that the plane landed safely at Damascus airport and all 200 passengers are in good health."

Ground operations at Damascus Airport. 
Trying to run an airline in a war zone can't be easy. Government forces in Syria's civil war are using helicopters and fighters jets to launch attacks across the country.

Sixty six year old Syrianair has kept up flights, but not without casualties. Firas Ibrahim Al Safi, a captain with the carrier was shot and killed on his way to work July 30th.

Flight 501 was en route to Latakia, 150 miles from Damascus and continuing on to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, when the helicopter rotor blades sliced through the upper portion of the vertical fin. Both aircraft were flying around 12,000 feet at the time. Reports say the military crew was killed when the chopper went down near the capital.

Logo of the 66 year old Syrianair
Airline officials were able to get the passengers transferred to another plane which carried the passengers to their destination, probably none too soon for any of them.


Patrick Smith said...

One thing Christine doesn't mention is that Syrianair is one of the few of the world's national carrier to have never suffered a fatal accident.

The airline was founded in 1961 and, at least until recently, were operating a fleet of about 25 aircraft. It has never been an especially large airline, but 51 years without a crash is impressive regardless.

This was a close call. Amazing that the A320 was able to fly with half of its tail missing. (We think of American 587 and the JAL flight 123 catastrophe in 1985.)

Cool picture of the Tupolev Tu-134!

Patrick Smith

Nikos said...

I wonder what happened to the helicopter?

Unknown said...

There is no a doubt that Syrian airline has great pilots, after Allah merciful.

Christine Negroni said...

It is my understanding that the helicopter crashed and all four aboard were killed.

Victor A. Potesta said...

What an amazing job from these pilots, because landing an airliner safely in that condition is not an easy task.

Anonymous said...

Cheers for the pilots. Landing a plane witjout the vertical stabilizer is like driving a car without a steering wheel in a crowded area. The remaining part of the tail must have helped them to some extent.