Kaliningrad Khrabrovo airport’s operator insists the condition of its runway was suitable to receive the Aeroflot Airbus A321 which subsequently veered off onto muddy ground and lost its nose-gear.
The airport operator states that the runway was cleaned and examined just 8min before the landing, which took place at 22:54 on 3 January.
It adds that the coefficient of friction was measured at 0.32 and that this was “valid” for the “difficult” weather conditions – which included snow showers and a crosswind.
“All the information was given to the [aircraft’s captain] to make a landing decision,” the operator says.
Within 40min of the accident, it adds, the coefficient of friction was measured again, and found to be 0.34.
Only minor injuries were sustained among the 167 passengers and seven crew members, but the aircraft – which came to rest 15-20m from the runway – suffered substantial damage.
Its nose-gear detached during the accident and the jet became stranded in soft ground, with its main landing-gear sunk in by 70%.
Khrabrovo airport’s operator says the combination of damage and the ground condition was “extremely unfavourable” for recovery of the jet, and it recruited specialised military equipment to assist with the task.
By 22:35 on 4 January the aircraft had been lifted onto a concrete surface and at 02:30 the following day it was towed to a parking stand, enabling the runway to be restored to an operational state by 06:00 on 5 January.