The Soviet-era Tupolev-134 jet – last built in 1984 – was unable to move after temperatures plunged to an icy -52C at the town of Igarka, about 100 miles of north of the Arctic circle.
The plane apparently became stuck due to the wrong kind of grease being used on the landing gear. But passengers – many of them muscular workers from the Arctic oil and gas fields – decided to wing it rather than risk the cancellation of their 800-mile flight to the city of Krasnoyarsk.
So they grabbed the wings of the 30-ton aircraft before embarking on an unscheduled short-haul adventure as they slowly pushed the plane backwards to the runway.
It’s a fuel-saving idea that could easily catch on with some budget airline bosses we can think of, and it proved successful as the Katekavia airline flight duly took off and landed safely in Krasnoyarsk.
But it’s not all plane sailing, as prosecutors are assessing whether the airport, the airline, the crew or the passengers broke air safety laws.
Oksana Gorbunova, a spokesman for the West Siberia transportation prosecutor, told the Tass news agency that passengers had initially been asked to leave the plane when it got stuck. When a tractor started to haul the stranded jet to the runway some of them left their bus to assist the rescue effort.
“It would be funny if it didn’t pose a horrendous threat,” rapped Gorbunova. “People could have damaged the aircraft skin and the flaps.”