Russian pilot hailed hero for emergency landing

Moscow: The captain of a Russian passenger jet was hailed as a hero on Thursday for landing his plane in a cornfield after it collided with a flock of gulls seconds after takeoff, causing both engines to malfunction.

While dozens of people sought medical assistance, only one was hospitalized.

The event drew comparisons to the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson,” when a captain ditched his plane in New York’s Hudson River after a bird strike disabled his engines.

The Ural Airlines A321 carrying 226 passengers and a crew of seven hit the birds as it was taking off on Thursday from Moscow’s Zhukovsky airport en route for Simferopol, in Crimea.

Russia’s Rosaviatsiya state aviation agency chief Alexander Neradko told reporters that the crew “made the only right decision” to land immediately after both of the plane’s engines malfunctioned, landing in a field about five kilometers from the runway.

“The crew has shown courage and professionalism and deserves the highest state awards,” he said.

The airline said in a statement that the pilot shut down the engines to avoid fire as the plane landed with its fuel tanks fully loaded.