Emirates Flight EK521 Incident

It was difficult to find any example of a crisis situation on national level which the UAE government had to deal with. However, Emirates Flight EK521 incident might be a slight instance of cooperation and fast reaction to an unexpected accident withing a government company such Dubai International Airport is.

The aircraft, a Boeing 777-300 was travelling from Trivandrum International Airport in India to Dubai. There were 282 passengers and 18 crew on board.

The approach and landing were normal from the air traffic control (ATC) point of view, with no emergency declared according to ATC recordings at the time. The crew reported that they were going around, after which the tower instructed them to climb to 4,000 feet, which was acknowledged by the crew.

The accident occurred at 12:37. According to the Preliminary Accident Report, significant wind shear was impacting on the aircraft’s airspeed through late final approach, and the aircraft touched down onto the 4,000 metres long runway at a point approximately 1,100 metres beyond the upwind threshold, at a speed of 162 kts. Two seconds later, the cockpit issued a “LONG LANDING” warning and the crew initiated a go-around. Six seconds after main-wheel touchdown, and with the nose-wheel still off the runway, the aircraft became airborne again after rotating to climb attitude. Four seconds later the flap setting was reduced to 20°, followed by the undercarriage being selected to retract. Engine throttle settings appear to have remained unchanged during this period. The aircraft attained a maximum height above the runway of 85′ with its indicated airspeed decreasing, before commencing to settle back towards the ground. Twelve seconds after becoming airborne the throttles were advanced to maximum, however the aircraft continued to sink and it impacted the runway with its undercarriage in a partially retracted state three seconds later.

The aircraft first impacted with the underside of its rear fuselage and skidded about 800 metres along runway with its landing gear partly retracted as it rotated to the right about 120 degrees. As the aircraft skidded down the runway, the number 2 (starboard) engine detached and slid along the wing’s leading edge toward the wingtip. Firefighting appliances were at the aircraft less than 90 seconds after it came to rest (which was 33 seconds after the initial impact) and started to fight fires at several locations as all 300 passengers and crew were safely evacuated.

Nine minutes after the aircraft came to a stop, with only the aircraft captain and the senior flight attendant still on board (checking for any remaining passengers), there was a large explosion. The explosion, of the aircraft’s center fuel tank, resulted in the death of a firefighter. Twenty-four of the aircraft’s occupants were injured – including the captain and the senior flight attendant, who evacuated after the explosion; the senior flight attendant was the only person among the passengers and crew seriously injured, suffering from smoke inhalation. In addition, eight firefighters and a policeman were injured, several of the firefighters suffering from heat stroke. The explosion resulted in the fire spreading to the aircraft’s cabin; it took firefighters 16 hours to bring the fire under control. The airport was closed during and following the accident, which resulted in many diverted flights.

All in all, the saving of all people on board (300 persons) was met as an effective handling of a crisis situation.

Source: Emirates, Wikipedia

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