Ural Airlines A320 – Still Stuck, But Maybe Not For Long?

By Spyros Georgilidakis | November 25, 2023

It’s been over two months since we heard that Ural Airlines plans to fly its stranded A320 out of the field it’s in. Is that plan still on?

If you’ve missed the story, the crew of this aircraft made an emergency landing into an open field, near a village called Moskovka, in the Novosibirsk Oblast in Russia. This happened on the 12th of September this year, on flight U6-1383.

Image (upscaled): Siberian Transport Prosecutor’s Office

The Ural Airlines A320 had taken off from Sochi International Airport (URSS), heading for Omsk Tsentralny (UNOO). The last information we had was that the crew of this flight abandoned their first approach into Omsk because of weather issues.

But as the Ural Airlines flight crew retracted their landing gear, they got indications that their A320 had a hydraulic issue. They decided to divert to Novosibirsk, which is about 320 nautical miles east of Omsk.

Photo (upscaled): Siberian Transport Prosecutor’s Office

The crew climbed only up to 18,000 feet during this diversion, maintaining a ground speed of 260 knots. According to the Ural Airlines captain, they calculated that their A320 would still have 1,200 kg of fuel remaining after landing in Novosibirsk.

But on the way there, the crew realized that, for some reason, they were quickly running out of fuel, well short of their new destination. They decided to land in a field, still with around 200 kg of fuel remaining. The field near Moskovka village is about 100 nautical miles away from Novosibirsk.

Ural Airlines A320 – Still Stuck, But Maybe Not For Long?
This photo is from September. Credit: Ural Airlines

Ural Airlines A320 – Recovery Or Weathering The Winter?

Obviously, there is an investigation into the event. But this is where the story should have ended for the Ural Airlines A320 itself. However, we later learned that the airline would like to try to fly the aircraft out of there. So the assumption was that Ural Airlines would wait for the winter so that the muddy terrain would harden.

With November nearly over, recent photos show that, unsurprisingly, the scenery around the aircraft says “Siberian winter.” The Airbus appears to be buttoned up, while a fence has been erected around it.

Ural Airlines A320 – Still Stuck, But Maybe Not For Long?
Photo: @igorsushko via X (formerly Twitter)

Of course, the weather that is icing up the ground is also icing up the aircraft, which would add to the complications of flying it out of a field. And to be clear – if Ural Airlines manages to get their A320 out of there safely, it will be a first.

You may recall the story of TACA Flight 110. The pilots of that 737-300 successfully landed it on a levee in New Orleans in 1988, after a double engine flame-out in bad weather. Everyone escaped without injuries.

The incident aircraft. Photo: kitmasterbloke, CC BY 2.0

But contrary to popular belief, the 737 didn’t take off again from the same levee. After lengthy repairs (and an engine change), crews towed the aircraft to a nearby NASA facility, which included a road (Saturn Boulevard) that used to be a runway in WWII. That’s where the 737-300 took off from. It remained in service for many years later – including in the hands of Southwest Airlines.

Looking for Options

As for the Ural Airlines A320, there is no easy way to move it to a paved surface. It looks like it will most likely need to take off from the same field – unless someone paves that field for the occasion. But beyond this challenge, there are other questions about the way the Ural Airlines A320 ended up where it is.

Ural Airlines A320 – Still Stuck, But Maybe Not For Long?
Photo (upscaled): @igorsushko via X (formerly Twitter)

Earlier in November, Russia’s aviation authorities canceled the previous interim report into the event. This suggests that some aspects of the story, as we know it, may not be accurate. A new investigation is underway.

So there is a lot that we don’t know, including whether or not a change in the narrative impacts the chances of the Ural Airlines A320 to attempt a departure from its field. But if Ural Airways can’t afford to retire this A320, which says a lot about the state of Russia’s aviation, then maybe there are other ways to recover the jet, beyond flying it out of there.

Photo (upscaled): @igorsushko via X (formerly Twitter)

The aircraft is a bit over 10 kilometers (6 miles) away from R-254, a road going all the way to Novosibirsk. A railway line passes by the same road, too. With the TACA 737, the original plan was to remove the wings and take it to an airport on a barge, before someone suggested the road that used to be a runway.


1 comment


    Russian senior aviation expert said on an interview, that the A 320 FMS, while calculating fuel endurance, doesn’t take into consideration fuel consumption, while flying a gear down flight, which was the case due to hydraulic issue in this event.
    This fact has caused the crew to miscalculate the remaining fuel to the alternate destination

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