Russian Plane Comes In On A Wing And Lemonade

ARKHANGELSK, Russia - An Aeroflot jet carrying 62 people made an emergency landing in this Far North city yesterday after the crew managed to replace missing hydraulic fluid with lemonade, a news report said.

There were no injuries reported. But an airline duty officer said the Tupolev-134 was seriously damaged when it touched down without part of the landing gear in place.

It was the latest embarrassment for Aeroflot, which has been struggling to salvage its reputation after two air disasters this year killed a total of 199 people and highlighted Russia's poor air-safety record.

Flight 2315 from Moscow to Arkhangelsk yesterday had 55 passengers and seven crew. As it prepared to land, two of the three sections of landing gear failed to come down because of a loss of hydraulic fluid, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.

The report said that while the plane circled, the crew "had to pour all the reserves of lemonade into the hydraulic system" and managed to lower one more section of landing gear.

Valentin Ignatiev, duty officer for Aeroflot in Moscow, said the plane ran off the runway and suffered wing damage. He could not confirm that lemonade was used in the hydraulic system.

The airport in the White Sea city, about 620 miles north of Moscow, was closed for three hours.

In January, 124 people died when an Aeroflot Tu-154 went down near Irkutsk. In March, 75 people were killed when an Airbus en route to Hong Kong crashed in Siberia. Government officials said cockpit recordings indicate a pilot's teenage son had been at the controls.

Last year, 11 Aeroflot planes crashed, killing 221 people.