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Monument to commemorate victims of flydubai crash unveiled, one year on

The memorial, in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, has been named the Interrupted Flight and is situated close to the city’s airport.
Relatives and fellow mourners lay flowers at a Russian memorial to the 62 people killed when a flydubai Boeing 737-800 crashed in bad weather at Rostov-on-Don airport after an abortive landing attempt last year. Valery Matytsin / Tass / Getty Images
Relatives and fellow mourners lay flowers at a Russian memorial to the 62 people killed when a flydubai Boeing 737-800 crashed in bad weather at Rostov-on-Don airport after an abortive landing attempt last year. Valery Matytsin / Tass / Getty Images

DUBAI // A monument to the victims of the flydubai plane crash in Russia was unveiled on Sunday, the first anniversary of the tragedy that killed 62 passengers and crew.

The memorial, in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, has been named Interrupted Flight and is situated close to the city’s airport.

It was designed by Rostov sculptor Anatolly Sknarin and consists of three granite columns and a vertical stone slab bearing the names of the victims.

A sculpture of a bird has been erected near the slab as a symbol uniting the earth and air.

Ceremonies were held in the southern Russian city and in Dubai on Sunday.

In Rostov-on-Don, religious leaders and tearful relatives of passengers gathered at the memorial, many leaving flowers and tributes to loved ones.

The flydubai Boeing 737-800 from Dubai crashed at Rostov-on-Don airport in the early hours of March 19, 2016. Complications arose during strong side winds and rain and the crash happened during a second attempt to land. The plane had spent more than two hours circling before attempting to touch down for the second time.

“A year has passed from that horrible tragedy. Today, we open a memorial. Let me express condolences to the relatives of the victims,” Sputnik news agency quoted Russian transport minister Maxim Sokolov as saying.

“Let this memorial symbolise their souls, which will remain forever in our hearts.”

In Dubai, flydubai’s chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith said that the airline’s personnel were united in remembering those who lost their lives.

“Today offers a poignant reminder of the tragic loss of flight FZ981. Our hearts go out to the families of the passengers and crew members who are mourning loved ones,” he said.

“At this time of reflection, we hope the memorials offer a degree of comfort to the families who continue to grieve. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the officials and authorities in Rostov-On-Don and my colleagues at Flydubai who have made these memorials possible.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive of FlyDubai, paid tribute to those who died in the crash.

A preliminary analysis of the data retrieved from flight recorders revealed the crew was attempting to land manually, without the autopilot.

While approaching at a height of 340 metres, the pilots aborted the landing because of wind shear, an abrupt change in wind speed and direction.

The report said the crew decided to wait for weather conditions to improve before making another landing attempt.

At that point, at a height of 900 metres, controls were adjusted by the pilots with “a simultaneous control column nose down input and stabiliser five-degree nose down deflection” resulting in an abrupt descent.

The report said the crew was unable to recover control, which hit the ground at more than 600 kilometres per hour.

The investigation into the cause of the crash remains active.

Since the crash, some of the families of the victims have been fighting for better compensation than Russian law entitles them to.

The Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn’s aviation law expert Joseph Wheeler and Russian lawyers acting for the families of 37 people said relatives are only entitled to a minimal amount of compensation.

Under the Montreal Convention, which more than 140 countries agreed to in 1999, relatives of an air crash victim must be paid about $170,000 each.

Russia signed the convention late last year, after the crash, and Maurice Blackburn said the passengers from FZ981 are not yet entitled to compensation under the Montreal Convention’s provisions.

“In the aftermath of the flydubai crash the Russian government acted to remedy this imbalance, seeking to bring Russia in line with other major nations under the Montreal Convention, which is a much fairer and reasonable compensation law with international consistency for survivors and families,” Mr Wheeler said.

“Disappointingly, however, this will not apply to those impacted by last year’s flydubai crash.

“This is unfair, and puts the families of those who died on the flydubai flight, and seeking to move forward with their lives, at a significant disadvantage.

“On this first anniversary, we urge the Russian government to act with urgency to remedy this oversight - these families deserve the same access to justice that all Russians will soon have.”

mswan@thenational.ae

Updated: March 19, 2017 04:00 AM

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