"I did what I had to do", said Damir Yusupov, the captain who guided the Airbus down.
Thankfully, there was a large cornfield one kilometer away from the airport runway, and the pilots brought the plane down without the use of the landing gear, turning the engines off seconds before the emergency touchdown.
Some Russian officials suggested the flock of gulls that hit Yusupov's plane could have been attracted by an unauthorized garbage dump near the airport. He has over 600 flying hours.
Yusupov's feat Thursday drew comparisons to the 2009 "miracle on the Hudson," when Capt. Chesley Sullenberger safely ditched his plane in New York's Hudson River after a bird strike disabled its engines, saving the lives of all 155 people on board. 10 people were injured among the 226 passengers and the team of seven crew members on board.
"We congratulate the hero pilots who saved people's lives", said the Kremlin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, adding that the government would see that the men were quickly given state honours.
The passengers in the Russian aircraft have praised the pilots and flight attendants for preventing a tragedy.
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An airline pilot is being touted as a hero this week after making a successful emergency landing in a corn field after a swarm of birds was sucked into the plane's engines during takeoff, causing them to fail.
Lukashevich said that the very design of an aircraft protects it from birds: "The cockpit glazing undergoes special tests for collisions with birds in flight".
Pilot Damir Yusupov, 41, and co-pilot Georgy Murzin, 23, were praised by the airline for their professionalism in hard circumstances. "They must take certain measures to deter birds", he said adding this is an global problem. "There it is a common occurrence and what happened today was going to happen sooner or later", said Lukashevich.
A commercial airliner made an emergency landing near the Russian capital on Thursday, injuring 74 passengers including 19 children.
It's rare for bird strikes to knock out both engines but pilots do prepare for this, said John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His toughest decision is where to try to land.
The plane, bound for the Arctic city of Murmansk, had turned around after being struck by lightning, bounced on the runway while landing and caught fire.
As the plane belly-landed, the fuel started leaking, and about one ton spilled out.