Black boxes of crashed Flydubai plane decoded, no onboard system malfunctions found – investigators

Emergencies Ministry members work at the crash site of a Boeing 737-800 Flight FZ981, March 20, 2016. © Maxim Shemetov
Flydubai flight FZ981, which crashed in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, was fully operational when it took off from the airport in Dubai, the Interstate Aviation Committee said after decoding the flight data recorders.

#FlydubaiGate: Pilots speak out to RT after Rostov-on-Don crash

“According to the preliminary analysis of the information obtained from flight recorders to date, no onboard system malfunctions, aircraft components’ defects or power system failures have been found. The aircraft had a valid airworthiness certificate, had passed the necessary maintenance procedures and was fully operational at the time of departure,” the IAC said in a statement on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Leaked Flydubai recorder data reveals argument, panic in cockpit before ‘fatal nosedive’

Previously, the IAC requested from Boeing the technical documentation of the plane needed to assess the functional systems of the aircraft and possibly determine the cause of the crash.

In its statement, the IAC has also stressed that the data obtained from the flight voice recorder will not be disclosed to the public.

“In accordance with Russian and International rules of aviation accident investigation, the information obtained from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) is not to be made public. IAC did not and does not intend to disclose this information.”

The IAC decoded over an hour of conversations from the plane’s CVR, including the final several minutes of the flight. Earlier in March, Russian Kommersant newspaper said - citing unnamed sources - that these final minutes had been full of arguments and screams of terror as the pilots were allegedly unable to manage the landing. The sources said that pilot error is dominating the investigation as the probable cause.

There were 55 passengers and seven crew members on board the Flydubai FZ981 Boeing 737-800, flying from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don. No one survived the crash.

Investigators are currently considering three main theories as to the cause of the crash: technical failure, severe weather conditions and pilot error. 

The Investigation Committee consists of specialists from the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and France.

Fatigue-related crash predicted, pilots ‘worked to death’, former Flydubai pilot tells RT

Following the plane crash in Russia, RT has been contacted by a number of former and current employees of Flydubai and Emirates airlines, who allege these airlines are treating pilots with negligence, deliberately miscalculating the time that a pilot spends at work. This leads to increased workloads and pilot fatigue. Several of the 60-odd people that filed these allegations said they or their co-workers have fallen asleep due to fatigue on a number of occasions while in the cockpit.


Speaking to RT in Doha, the former pilot said Flydubai’s top management was aware of the issue, but did nothing to resolve it. “When I was still at the company, one of the last things I told management is that there would be an accident because of pilot fatigue,” he said.

Many pilots said they were discouraged to file internal reports, as there is usually no effective response other than occasional threatening “warnings.” One of the latest pilots to speak with RT on condition of anonymity said complaints of fatigue “end up” at the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), but generate no result. He described the situation as grave, given the safety risks of pilots flying while exhausted.

Flydubai flight FZ981’s crash in Russia seems to have become a breaking point for pilots working for, or having worked for Flydubai, as they continue to get in touch with RT with their reports. They all stress they are in no position to comment on whether fatigue was a contributing factor in the disaster, but say the problem is extremely serious.