A second Emirates flight in less than a month has been involved in an alleged serious incident while taking off from Dubai International Airport (DXB). In the latest incident, a Boeing 777-300 with seating capacity for as many as 427 passengers started to speed down the runway for departure without clearance from air traffic control and just as another plane was crossing the runway.
The incident has some similarities with the Milan Linate airport disaster in 2001 in which 118 people were killed when a McDonnell Douglas MD-87 jetliner operated by Scandanavian airline SAS and taking off in thick fog crashed into a small business jet that was taxiing along the runway.
Two independent sources claim Emirates flight EK524 to Hyderabad on January 9, 2022, was lined up for departure from Dubai’s runway 30R and started to speed along the runway without first gaining permission from air traffic control.
The pilots of the Boeing 777-300 aircraft didn’t, however, realise that a second Emirates operated 777-300 with service to Bangalore as flight EK568 was taxiing for departure and was crossing the same runway just as flight EK524 was starting its takeoff roll.
Air traffic controllers ordered the pilots of flight EK524 but the aircraft had reportedly already reached 130 ‘knots of indicated airspeed’ before the pilots rejected the takeoff. Surprisingly, after taxiing back to a holding point on the airfield, the flight was cleared to depart just 30 minutes later without further incident.
Emirates operates its 777-300 aircraft with three different seating configurations with a high-density, three-class layout often used on Indian routes capable of carrying up to 427 passengers. A different version of the aircraft which features a smaller Economy cabin still has a capacity for 360 passengers.
This alleged incident happened less than a month after Emirates flight EK231 from Dubai to Washington Dulles apparently overran the runway on departure and became airborne “just at the end of the runway end safety area”.
Although the aircraft continued to Washington DC without further incident, the Boeing 777-300 allegedly sustained damage on departure and had to be inspected on arrival. The U.S. National Transporation Safety Bureau has recorded the event as an ‘incident’ but is not investigating the matter any further.
Sources claim the incident may have occurred because the crew from a previous flight had set altitude on the Master Control Panel at airport elevation/00000 feet.
Emirates reportedly fired all four pilots who were working on that flight. Neither incident has been publicly acknowledged by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority, although in a statement, Emirates said it had referred the matter to the GCAA.
A spokesperson for the airline also said it had opened an internal investigation. Emirates said there were no reported injuries and the aircraft was found to have sustained no damage.
Last week, Airline Ratings named Emirates as one of the 20 safest airlines in the world, while the Hamburg-based Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre recently named Emirates as the safest airline in the world.
There has been significant concern raised throughout the aviation community that furloughed pilots are out of practice because of the drop in travel demand through the pandemic. Several incidents in recent months have been attributed to out of practice pilots, although there is no evidence to currently suggest that this was the case in this latest reported incident.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.