A flydubai jet which crashed in Russia on Saturday, killing all 62 people on board, had been circling the airport for two hours in bad weather before making its fatal descent, Russian media has reported, raising questions about why the pilot didn't divert for other airports nearby.
Flight FZ981 broke apart as it hit the ground while trying to land in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, 1000 kilometres south of Moscow, at 3.40am, killing 55 passengers and seven crew, Russia's Investigative Committee said.
Investigation continues after FlyDubai Crash
Rostov airport in Russia's south west has just reopened after the horrific crash that killed 55 passengers and 7 crew
Both flight recorders, or black boxes, had been found and were to be handed to experts for study, Vladimir Markin a representative of the committee, told Interfax newswire.
The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed no Australians were aboard the aircraft.
The plane was making a repeat attempt to land in poor weather when its wing touched the runway, causing the aircraft to break apart and burst into flames, the Rostov branch of the Emergencies Ministry said.
Strong winds of more than 20 metres per second (about 72km/h) were registered in Rostov- on-Don about the time of the crash, Rossiya 24 state television reported, citing a local weather service.
The plane circled the airport for about two hours before the pilot decided to land, the TV station reported.
Two hours is in general an unusually long time for circling, Ismail Al Hosani, a representative of the UAE's civil aviation body, said at the press conference, in response to speculation that the plane had been delaying its final approach.
Rostov-on-Don Airport is considered a straightforward airport to land at, Viktor Gorbachev, head of a Russian airport lobby group, said in an interview with Rossiya 24.
The only danger could have been side wind, but it was not clear why the captain didn't divert to another airport as there are several within 30 minutes' flight distance, he said.
In between the flydubai jet's first attempt to land and the crash, another plane made three landing efforts and then diverted, FlightRadar 24, which tracks airline movements, said in a Twitter posting.
Flydubai chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith urged people to wait until the facts were known before speculating on the cause of the crash.
"As far as we know, the airport was open and we were good to operate. This investigation will take time until all facts are collected. Before we commit and say anything, we have to be sure. If weather wasn't suitable, the plane wouldn't have flown."
Officials were investigating human error, technical failure and difficult weather conditions among possible reasons for the crash, the Investigative Committee said on its website.
The airport is operated by a unit of billionaire Viktor Vekselberg's Renova Group. It has two runways and serves more than 2 million passengers a year on domestic and international flights.
No survivors after flydubai plane crash
More than 60 people were killed when a flydubai passenger plane crashed and exploded in Russia.
Flydubai's Boeing 737-800 was delivered in 2011 and underwent comprehensive checks in January, the company said.
Preliminary numbers on the passenger list showed 33 women, 18 men, four children and seven crew on the aircraft.
The passengers were mostly Russian, with Ukrainian, Uzbek and Indian nationals also on board, flydubai said.
Flydubai, owned by the government of Dubai, is one of two no-frills airlines in the United Arab Emirates.
It began operations in 2009 and currently has an all-Boeing fleet of 50 aircraft with a network of about 90 destinations.
The airline flies out of Terminal 2 in Dubai International Airport and the emirates' second hub Al Maktoum International Airport.
It competes with Sharjah-based Air Arabia in the UAE.
Last year a flydubai aircraft touched down in Baghdad with damage to its fuselage suggesting gunfire.
There were no fatalities or serious injuries and the airline suspended flights to the Iraqi capital during the investigation.
The year 2015 was pronounced one of the safest years for airlines globally by the International Air Transport Association.
The number of fatal accidents fell by two-thirds last year, excluding more than 300 deaths resulting from a pilot suicide and possible terror attack.
There were four fatal accidents, all involving turboprop aircraft, in 2015, down from 12 a year earlier, IATA said in February.
These killed 136 people. The 374 dead passengers and crew from the crash of Germanwings 9525 by a suicidal pilot and Metrojet 9268 by suspected terrorism have been excluded because they are classified as deliberate acts of unlawful interference, the group said.