(Updated on 4th and 5th August and 6 September)
The GCAA has released a preliminary report to the ICAO and made it public:
Emirates flight 521 from Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) crashed on landing at DXB at 12.37pm today (3 August).
Remarkably all 282 passengers and 18 crew were safely evacuated before fire burned out the fuselage. A great job by the cabin crew and airport rescue teams.
Windshear was reported on all runways at the time of landing.
There is still much speculation about the cause. There are many updates on twitter under the hashtag #EK521
The airframe was a thirteen year old Boeing 777-300, registration A6-EMW.
There was some confusion over the souls on board number after Emirates initially messaged that the flight had 275 passengers and crew.
Avherald.com notes that “a passenger in the aft cabin reported, that the approach was normal, there had been no announcements or indications of anything abnormal. Then there was a heavy impact, oxygen masks came down, the aircraft skidded shaking violently and immediately filling with smoke and came to a stop. All doors were opened, it appeared however not all of them were used for evacuation.”
Avherald again – “Another passenger reported that the captain made an announcement they would land at Dubai and the weather was fine, nothing appeared to be amiss. Suddenly the aircraft hit the ground tail/belly first, at the same time the right hand engine caught fire, and the aircraft skidded to a halt, smoke filled the cabin, only at this time the passengers realised the seriousness of the situation. The accident came entirely out of the blue.”
These are consistent reports. There were earlier comments that the pilot had warned passengers of landing gear problems. This is suspected to be a mishearing of “cabin crew – take your seats for landing.”
The ATC recording suggests a normal approach with no priority requested or emergency declared. The first officer was making the radio calls; the captain would therefore be the pilot flying.
Tower advised EK521 to on landing to vacate at taxiway M9 and cleared the aircraft to land.
The crew appear to have then attempted a go-around and the tower instructed the aircraft to climb to 4000 feet.
The aircraft however did not climb, but after retracting the gear touched down on the runway and slid to a rest at the end of 12L.
A few seconds later tower instructs the next arrival to go around and alerts emergency services.
All occupants evacuated via slides; 13 passengers received minor injuries, 10 were taken to hospitals, 3 were treated at the airport. The aircraft burned. A firefighter attending to the aircraft lost his life.
The airline reported: “Emirates can confirm that an incident happened at Dubai International Airport on 3rd August 2016 at about 12.45pm local time.”
Rightly there has been a great deal of praise for the cabin crew.
Video from inside the plane during the evacuation shows many passengers trying to open the hatracks to save their carry on bags and some taking bags with them as they leave the plane.
There has been some dreadful abuse of these passengers on social media.
This was a flight from Trivandrum. Many passengers would be coming to Dubai as labourers. Some would not have flown before. Some would have not fully understood the saftey video.
There was no way they were going to leave their hand baggage behind, and the crew wisely recognised this and got everyone off, with their bags, far faster than they would have if they had tried to enforce the no bags rule.
On PPRUNE (the pilot rumour network) this from an eye witness (a pilot on the ground at the time):
“They touched down hard then aborted the landing which lead to a go around. They were in the process of a go-around (configuration) but it sank back on the runway. Maybe that’s why the landing gear appears to be up as it skidded on the ground. It most probably sank/fell back onto the runway due to extreme weather (temperature, low pressure/the gear doors opening/then closing i.e: increased drag) and that the B773 performance struggles at that those conditions.”
Another: “My mate is with flydubai and he saw the crash live :
Yeah I was crossing runway behind it as it landed ….front row seat … they landed hard, aborted , go around, gear up … not enough power and it sank back into the runway ….”
Here is a transcript of the ATC
It really could have been so very much worse.
There has now been extended disruption at DXB. The airport re-opened with single runway operations at 18.30 local last evening (3rd). Passengers and airplanes are in the wrong place, connections have been missed and there are long and frustrating delays.
But out of adversity comes a silver lining – and the trusty Gulf News has managed to turn near disaster into triumph. An article that probably had to be written but let’s hope that investigators address two hull losses in four months and buildings that in recent months have burned badly.
Peter Lemme at www.satcom.guru has produced this detailed analysis of the ADS-B data from EK521. Worth a read. This will all be reviewed in detail as part of the investigation.
His analysis is very detailed – but sensible avoids reaching conclusions. An interim report from the investigators is expected within the month.