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Fiery Emirates Crash Resulted from Inability to Abort Landing

A preliminary investigation by authorities indicates that the pilot of Emirates Flight EK521 attempted a “go-around” but was unable to regain altitude and instead slammed into the runway.

The Air Accident Investigation Sector of the United Arab Emirates (AAIS) has released a preliminary accident report on the crash of Emirates Flight EK521 that occurred on August 3 at Dubai International Airport (DXB). The Boeing 777-300 arriving from Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) burst into flames after slamming into the tarmac during a tricky severe weather landing.

According to a preliminary accident report on the crash, the captain of the Emirates flight attempted to abort the landing after wind shear triggered an automated warning. The report finds that the failed “go-around’ led directly to the plane skidding down the runway on its belly and eventually being engulfed entirely in flames. Investigators noted that the airport was under a wind sheer warning at the time of the accident which occurred when the aircraft failed to climb quickly enough to avoid hitting the ground.

Accident investigators say that faced with alerts of shifting tailwinds and concerns that the aircraft was running out of runway, the captain attempted to scrub the landing and started to retract the landing gear and climb to prepare for a second approach to the runway. According to flight data recorders, however, the plane failed to climb more than 85 feet above the runway before dropping onto the tarmac below. The impact ripped an engine from the wing, eventually sparking a jet fuel-fed inferno.

The 21-page-report released on Tuesday made no final determination as to whether the flight deck crew followed proper procedures. Authorities did, however, express concern over the way some passengers on the flight responded during the life-or-death emergency.

“The cabin crew members followed the Operator’s safety instructions that prohibit passengers taking their carry-on baggage during an evacuation, and they instructed the passengers to leave their bags behind, investigators wrote. “However, several passengers evacuated the Aircraft carrying their baggage. Footage of the evacuation showed a number of passengers outside the Aircraft with their baggage.”

Remarkably, all 300 passengers and crew members onboard the flight managed to escape without serious injury. One firefighter was killed while battling the ensuing blaze.

[Photo: Reuters]

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strickerj September 7, 2016

I've always heard that you confirm positive climb rate before retracting the gear. My flight instructor advised waiting until passing the end of the runway. (That was for a single engine plane at my local GA airport, where the runway is relatively short.) It's fortunate that this incident didn't end up worse than it was, especially with so many passengers blatantly disregarding crew instructions...