Drama of Emi­rates fire flight re­vealed

In­ves­ti­ga­tors re­lease re­port on crash land­ing

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Shoshana Ke­dem @B_shosh

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.

COCK­PIT ALARM

“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.”

‘MAY­DAY’

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.”

FALLEN FIRE­MAN

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

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