Drama of Emirates fire flight revealed
Investigators release report on crash landing
The first full account of what happened on board Emirates flight EK521 as it crash landed at Dubai International Airport last month has been released.
A preliminary report by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority was released yesterday, detailing how the plane came in to land then tried to take off again but struck the ground.
The report also says 24 people were injured and details the circumstances of the only fatality, a firefighter who died helping to evacuate the plane.
Emirates welcomed the report, adding: “As this is a preliminary report based on the facts gathered so far during the on-going investigation, it does not cover causes of the accident nor does it make final safety recommendations. We will review the report carefully.”
An intense fuel-fed fire was observed to start in the... damaged no.2 enginepylon wing area – Initial report into the emergency landing on August 3 Captain and crew member narrowly escaped blast
A ir accident investigators have released a preliminary report into the emergency landing of Emirates Flight EK521, which details for the first time how pilots attempted to pull up in the moments before the aircraft struck the tarmac.
The initial 28-page report from the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority describes how the Boeing 777-300 slammed into the runway as its landing gear was retracting.
The pilots had been attempting a go-around when the incident began to unfold.
As the aircraft, which was carrying 300 people, prepared to land at Dubai International Airport on August 3 from Thiruvananthapuram in India, pilots received a warning of wind shear – a sudden change in wind speed directions.
The report stated that a strong headwind started to shift to a tailwind then back again just as the plane started to touch down.
The right landing gear hit the ground first, with the left following seconds later, the report said.
Sirens sounded in the cockpit telling the pilots they had missed the exact landing spot – which is known as a ‘long landing’ and the plane took to the air again in a second landing attempt.
“At 08.37:19, the aircraft runway awareness advisory system (RAAS) aural message ‘LONG LANDING, LONG LANDING’ was annunciated,” the GCAA report stated.
Six seconds into the air, the crew began to lift up the landing gear that had been extended on the first landing attempt.
At about 85 feet off the ground the twin-engine plane began to lose altitude and cockpit warnings sounded “DON’T SINK, DON’T SINK”, the report read.
The report then details how pilots initiated the go-around.
This includes attempting to climb with the “goaround thrust” lever, which is used to propel the aircraft forward during an aborted landing.
If the aircraft attempts to climb with an inactive thrust lever, the aircraft will lose speed instead of climb. A Boeing 777-300 flight manual for standard go-around procedures - which was attached to the report - clearly states pilots should initiate the go-around procedure with the throttle activated for full thrust, which in this case was applied too late.
The report said: “Three seconds before impact with the runway, both thrust levers were moved from the idle position to full forward.”
Three seconds before impact, the crew tried to push the jet engines all the way from an idle to full power causing the engines to throttle up, but it was too late.
The report then goes onto detail the dramatic moment the plane hit the tarmac and the events that follow.
With the landing gear still extended, the back of the plane and then the engines hit the runway at 144mph (125 knots).
As the plane skidded on the runway the right engine was ripped off.
The report said “an intense fuel-fed fire was observed to start in the area of the damaged No.2 engine-pylon wing attachment area”, adding: “The aircraft continued to slide along the runway on the lower fuselage.”
The report continued: “As it slid along the runway surface, various components detached from the aircraft” including “portions of the engine”, “parts of the wing” and aircraft body, it read.
The report said: “One minute after, the commander transmitted a ‘MAYDAY’ call and informed air traffic control that the aircraft was being evacuated.”
After impact the air traffic control tower called the watchroom on the hotline declaring three times ‘CRASH’, the report said.
As the fire siren sounded through the Airport Rescue Department (ARFS), rescue teams were dispatched within 40 seconds after impact.
In the ensuing fire battle a fuel tank exploded All 300 people on board flight EK521 were saved, but the report detailed how one pilot and a cabin crew member had a close call. It read: “When the centre fuel tank exploded, causing intense smoke to fill the cabin, they attempted to evacuate from the cockpit emergency windows. “However, as the cockpit was filled with smoke, they were unable to locate the evacuation ropes. “Consequently, both evacuated by jumping from the L1 door onto the slide laying on the ground.”
The report details how a firefighter, later named as Jassim Issa Al Balooshi, died tackling the fire. His colleague Taimor Abduallah Jaweed was injured. The report read: “When the aircraft centre wing tank explosion occurred, both firefighters left the hoses and ran for safety. “However, one of the firefighters was fatally injured in the explosion of the aircraft centre tank.”
LEAVE BAGGAGE BEHIND
Investigators noted how some passengers took their luggage down shoots as the fire caught hold. “When the aircraft came to rest, some passengers were screaming, grabbing their belongings, and asking the cabin crew members to open the doors,” crew members stated in the report. Despite efforts to enforce regulations that prohibit passengers taking baggage during an evacuation, the report said “several passengers evacuated the aircraft carrying their baggage”. “Footage of the evacuation showed a number of passengers outside the aircraft with their baggage.”
AFTERMATH: The report said an engine on the Boeing 777-300 exploded nine minutes after it hit the tarmac