Emirates Jet Hit by Shifting Winds Before Hard Landing, Fire: Inquiry

FILE PHOTO: Emirates Airlines aircrafts are seen at Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Ashraf Mohammad/File photo

DUBAI, Sept 6 – An Emirates jet that skidded along the runway on its fuselage at Dubai airport and caught fire last month was subjected to shifting winds as it made a failed attempt to abort a landing, United Arab Emirates (UAE) investigators said on Tuesday.

In a preliminary report on the Aug. 3 incident, the UAE federal aviation authority said the pilot had tried to abandon the landing after the main wheels of the Boeing 777-300 had already touched down.

A few seconds later the plane became airborne again, only to descend and sink back onto the runway as the wheels were retracting into the aircraft. Seconds later the plane caught fire as it slid hundreds of metres on its fuselage.

All 300 passengers and crew were evacuated from the plane, which was arriving from Thiruvananthapuram, India. Fourteen people were admitted to hospital. One firefighter was killed in the intense blaze.

The Dubai carrier’s first significant accident happened shortly after UAE authorities issued a warning about windshear for all aircraft using the airport, the world’s busiest international hub, the report said.

During the incident the plane, flight EK521, was subjected to changing wind direction, as a headwind swung to a tailwind and then began shifting back to a headwind, it said.

In a passage headlined “Safety Concerns and Actions”, the report said no such concerns had been issued at this stage.

A final report will issued later. The report said the sole objective of the investigation was to prevent aircraft accidents and incidents. It would not apportion blame or liability, it said.

Emirates Airline in a statement welcomed the publication of the report and noted it did not cover causes of the accident or make final safety recommendations.

Emirates would review the report carefully, and was also conducting its own “rigorous internal investigation to proactively review what we know about the accident, and consider measures that may enhance our operations or procedures”.

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