Experts point to wind shear in Emirates incident
By Shoshana Kedem Air investigators are currently piecing together why an Emirates Boeing 777 flight burst into flames after an emergency landing at Dubai Airport.
International teams will scour the wreckage, analyse flight and cockpit voice recordings, conduct pilot interviews and collect data on weather patterns for evidence.
On the night of the incident last Wednesday, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline, said a sudden change in wind-speed directions, known as a wind shear, may have been at play.
“The pilot might have attempted a so-called go-around, that is, aborting the landing, to avoid wind shear, but that hadn’t been verified,” Sheikh Ahmed said.
7DAYS spoke to a number of aviation experts about what could have caused the incident.
Former airline pilot, and author of best-selling guide to air-travel Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith said:“The aircraft apparently was attempting a go-around manoeuvre, when, seconds later, it struck the ground hard and skidded to a stop on its belly.
“There are conflicting reports as to whether the plane’s landing gear had been retracted prior to the impact, or if it collapsed upon landing.”
Normal go-around procedures call for the pilots to extend the gear on landing. The airport had issued a wind shear warning for all runways before the accident. It is estimated by experts that the wind quickly changed from a 15 knot headwind to a 15 knot tailwind - creating a 30 knot airspeed loss. Jan Richter, an aviation safety expert and founder and manager of German aviation safety bureau JACDEC, said: “A possible wind shear scenario is supported by the weather data at the time around the accident, but the time interval between the weather observations are too long to say exactly what conditions prevailed.” Peter Terry, an airline pilot of more than 44 years and fellow at the UK Royal Aeronautical Society, said even if there was a wind shear, pilots are trained to escape them: “There’s a wind shear escape manoeuvre, which is standard. If the plane made a go-around because of wind shear, then was that manoeuvre complied with?” he said, before adding that a goaround manoeuvre is straight forward for a qualified pilot.
An Emirates Airline spokesperson said: “Unfortunately we can’t comment on the investigation as it’s now ongoing.”
The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority said it will issue an initial report within a month.
TRAUMATIC: Last Wednesday’s scenes after Flight EK521 burst into flames