A bird made members of the official Russian delegation miss the business lunch with Putin in India
The details of the accident, which occurred to the plane of President Putin's delegation, became known on Friday. Russian President Vladimir Putin finished the official pat of his visit to Delhi and left for Bangalore, India's technological center. Putin's program included a lunch with Russian and Indian businessmen. A half of the business delegation, however, failed to come to Bangalore.
Russian top officials - Atomic Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of the export defense enterprise Rosoboronexport Sergei Chemezov, VnesheconomBank's chairman Vladimir Dmitriev, the chairman of Sberbank's administrative board Andrei Kazmin, the head of the Sukhoi aircraft-building enterprise Mikhail Pogosyan and the General Director of the MiG plane maker Aleksei Fyodorov – were flying on board the plane, which had to perform an emergency landing in another Indian city of Mumbai (former Bombay), the newspaper Izvestia reports.
A technical malfunction was detected on board the plane about 40 minutes after the departure from Delhi. The jetliner landed at the airport of Mumbai (500 kilometers far from Bangalore) about two hours later.
The VIP passengers paid attention to air hostesses' whisper: “We have a technical failure. We will probably have to land in another airport.” Red-faced captain rushed across the saloon – he was overanxious to explain anything to the passengers.
When the plane landed in Mumbai, the passengers saw a big dent underneath the cockpit. The dent was about 1.5 meters in diameter; one could see a hole and scratches on the hull of the plane's front.
Reporters hurried to interview the delegation members. As long as there were Russia's leading aircraft engineers among the officials on board the plane, they commented on the situation immediately.
”It all started with a slight blow. The speed and pressure made the hull lose its strength and the impact area started growing. If hull pieces had come into the engines, consequences would have been quite lamentable.”
The breakdown on board the jetliner most likely happened because of a bird, which slammed into the front part of the plane. As a result, the business lunch with President Putin had to take place without the above-mentioned officials. A spokesman for the airline Russia, which serves official delegations, told reporters that a bird had flown into the locator fairing of the plane: “The fairing apparently was slightly damaged as a result of the impact, and then it started falling apart, when the plane was gaining height. The pilots could not see the damage that is why they decided to land in the nearest airport. It was the first incident like that in our practice, although no one can be insured against it. A bird could have caused much more damage, if it had flown into an engine. Such an incident has already happened before at Lisbon airport, with the Il-96 liner of the Russian president, when a bird flew into an engine. On the whole, there is nothing frightening about it, for Il planes can take off and continue flying even if one of its engines comes out of order,” an official spokesperson for the airline said.
Russian businessmen left Mumbai only on Sunday afternoon, although they had to take a flight to Turkey: Vladimir Putin starts his work visit to Ankara on Monday.
There is quite a list of top officials among victims of plane crashes. UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold was killed in an air crash on September 18th 1961, as he was flying with a peacemaking mission to Congo.
The Tu-134 jetliner carrying Mozambique President Samora Machel crashed on October 19th 1986 on the border of the South African Republic, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq was killed in an air crash on August 17th 1988. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski was killed on February 26th 2004 as he was flying to an international conference in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The plane slammed into a mountain.