The company behind Dubai International Airport has won a major award for the way in which it handled the crash landing of Emirates flight EK521 last year. On the 3rd August 2016, a Boeing 777-300 aircraft belonging to Emirates smashed into the runway at DXB. Despite the aircraft partially exploding, the airport somehow managed to reopen just a few hours after the incident unfolded.
The accolade was awarded by the Business Continuity Institute Awards Middle East held at the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai last week. The BCI describes itself as the worlds leading institute for business continuity and was established in 1994. Winners from the regional categories will compete in a grand global finale to be held in November.
Dubai Airports won a specific award for Most Effective Recovery following one of the worst aviation accidents witnessed in 2016. The judging panel noted the airport displayed “exceptional crisis response through team work” as well as “effective planning and efficient processes.”
At approximately 12:45 on August 3rd, 2016, EK521 was making its final approach at DXB after its short, three and a half hour flight from Thiruvananthapuram in India. The pilots attempted to perform a ‘go around’ after suffering severe wind sheer just before touch down but the aircraft couldn’t gain enough lift.
With the landing gear already retracted the Boeing 777 bellyflopped onto runway 12L, causing significant damage to the aircraft. It took over nine minutes to evacuate all 282 passengers and 18 crew members from the aircraft. Miraculously, everyone onboard the plane survived the crash but tragically, an airport firefighter was killed when the central fuel tank burst into flames, causing a huge explosion.
Dubai Airports immediately initiated their emergency response plan and the two-runway airport was completely shut for six hours. Emirates, the largest operator at the airport cancelled 27 flights in the aftermath of the accident and a further 23 inbound flights had to be diverted to surrounding airports, including Sharjah, Al Maktoum International, Fujairah, Al Ain, Muscat and Bahrain.
The airline estimated that 23,000 passengers were affected by the disruption at what is the world’s busiest airport in the world for international passengers. Dubai’s second biggest airline, flydubai was forced to ground over 100 flights during the first 48 hours following the accident.
Amazingly, the second runway was reopened just 24 hours after the accident with the remains of the aircraft wreckage removed to a corner of the airfield. In 2016, Dubai International Airport handled 83.6 million passengers. That figure is projected to reach 89 million in 2017.
DXB has been the world’s number one airport for international passengers since 2014. The long-term plan is to move the operations of both Emirates and flydubai to the new Dubai World Central airport, south of the city centre. DWC will have five runways and the airport will cover a huge 56 square kilometres. The entire project is estimated to cost a cool $32 billion USD.