Flight EK521 arriving from Trivandrum, India crash-lands in Dubai
Three hundred people, including 24 Britons, walked away unscathed from an Emirates airliner that crash landed and burst into flames on the runway of Dubai’s airport on Wednesday.
A firefighter was killed however as he fought the fire which consumed the Boeing 777 after it slammed to the ground at the end of a flight from southern India.
Passengers were given no warning of the hard landing and fled down emergency chutes before being forced to run, some in barefoot, up the runway and away from the burning aircraft.
“It was actually really terrifying. As we were landing there was smoke coming out in the cabin,” said Sharon Maryam Sharji, one of the passengers.
“People were screaming and we had a very hard landing. We left by going down the emergency slides and as we were leaving on the runway we could see the whole plane catch fire; it was horrifying.”
Flight EK521 was making a normal approach as it returned to Dubai from Thiruvananthapuram when at the last moment its pilots told air traffic control they were abandoning the landing, according to the Aviation Herald.
The pilot said they were attempting a “go around” – a common maneuver when the plane plane regains height and and makes another attempt to land – but instead of climbing the aircraft crashed and its right engine broke away.
A fireball then burst from the aircraft, possibly as a result of jet fuel turning to vapor in the 119F (48C) Dubai heat and then catching fire.
The accident led to the cancellation of dozens of flights to and from the busiest airport in the Middle East but within six hours aircraft began taking off and landing in Dubai again.
226 of the 300 people aboard were Indian, according to Emirates, along with 24 Britons, and 11 people from the UAE.
There were six Americans and six Saudis along with small groups from Turkey, Ireland, Australia and other countries.
The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCA) confirmed that a firefighter had died responding to the fire but did not say how he was killed.
“I salute his ultimate sacrifice that kept many from harm’s way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Saif Al Suwaidi, director general of the authority.
The investigation into the crash will be lead by the GCA. Boeing, the maker of the aircraft, said it would support the investigation.
Emirates has a strong safety record and the crash appears to be only its third major incident since the airline was founded 1985.
The 777 was 13 years old and had flown to Tunisia, Malta and India in the day leading up to the crash.
In order to receive a safety certificate from US aviation authorities, aircraft makers have to prove that their planes can be fully evacuated with only half of the emergency exits functioning in 90 seconds or less.
Boeing’s 777 model passed this test before it first entered service in 1995.
Original source: The Telegraph