Russian investigators are probing a Ural Airlines Airbus A320’s landing on Ulan-Ude's newly-built runway, which was not open at the time.

Preliminary information indicates that the aircraft touched down at around 09:00 on 25 August, on the parallel runway being constructed some 180m to the north of runway 26.

NOTAMs issued in June advise operators that the new runway is under construction.

While there were cumulonimbus clouds in the vicinity, and the airport was overcast at 3,000ft, meteorological data from Ulan-Ude states that visibility was good at the time.

The A320 had been bound for Irkutsk but spent around 1h holding. Weather conditions at the airport ahead of the aircraft’s arrival show fog and low visibility, down to around 300m.

Ulan-Ude is located some 220km east of Irkutsk and the A320 diverted, carrying out an approach from the east which would normally be the case for landing on runway 26.

But the federal Investigative Committee’s eastern Siberian transport division states that the aircraft landed on a runway which was “not commissioned”.

“At the time the aircraft landed on the track, preparations for operation were in progress,” says the Investigative Committee.

It adds that these preparations included a three-day testing session of lighting and other markings.

This runway was “mistaken” for the active runway to which the aircraft – tentatively identified as VQ-BGJ – had been cleared by air traffic control.

None of the 161 passengers was injured, says the inquiry. The Investigative Committee says it is carrying out an examination to establish “all the circumstances” of the incident.

Source: Cirium Dashboard