Russia denies fire emergency on Saudi soccer team plane
On June 18, 2018, Rossiya Airlines’ A319, flying from Saint-Petersburg (LED) to Rostov-on-Don (RVI) and carrying the official soccer team delegation of Saudi Arabia, was involved in an incident when a flame coming from engine was spotted just before landing. Russian authorities deny there was fire, but confirm an incident with the right propelling nozzle took place. They also affirm the incident was minor and posed no real threat for passenger safety.
“This incident was noticed in the dawn when passengers started to film it using their mobile phones”, government officials informed local Interfax media. According to preliminary data, the incident happened because of the technical fault with one of the engines. On June 19, 2018, Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) affirmed Interfax there was no engine parameter change that would require turning it off. “Passengers left the plane in a normal mode. Nothing threatened the safety of the flight", - the department added.
Rossiya Airlines representatives denied the fire in their official comment, saying that engine malfunction happened due to bird ingestion, while reports of fire were incorrect, even despite the videos of passengers, which quite clearly portrayed fire under a wing.
Though the Saudi Arabia team Press Service called the situation “a minor operating failure”, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Russian Federation civil aviation regard the event as an “incident” and plan to further investigate it.
FIFA World Cup organisers in Russia have already issued a formal apology to Saudi Football Federation for the conditions that accompanied the landing, as Saudi Press Agency states it.
The A319 aircraft has been temporarily removed from transporting Saudi or other World Cup teams until the inspection is over.