Passengers Found Grabbing Bags During Emirates Evacuation

Dubai: Seconds after the Emirates flight from Thiruvananthapuram, with 300 people, slid along the runway at the airport in Dubai early August, several passengers stood up from their seats and “grabbed their belongings” despite instructions to leave their bags behind, says an initial probe report released on Tuesday.

The Boeing 777-300 aircraft had 282 passengers, mostly Indians, and 18 crew members when it crash-landed at the Dubai international airport on August 3, but there were no casualties among those who were on board while a firefighter was killed.

At that time, Emirates had said there were 226 Indians on that plane.

In its preliminary report on the incident, UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority said the aircraft, which tried to go-around with its landing gear retracting, began to “sink back onto the runway” before hitting the ground.

According to the report, several passengers deplaned carrying their baggage despite instructions from the cabin crew against it.

Citing cabin crew members, the 28-page report said that when the aircraft slid along the runway, passengers started to unfasten their seatbelts and stand up.

“An announcement was made for the passengers to remain seated. When the aircraft came to rest, some passengers were screaming, grabbing their belongings, and asking the cabin crew members to open the doors,” it said.

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, the report added.

“However, several passengers evacuated the aircraft carrying their baggage. Footage of the evacuation showed a number of passengers outside the aircraft with their baggage,” the watchdog said.

As many as 21 passengers, one flight crew member and one cabin crew member sustained minor injuries while another cabin crew person was seriously injured.

“Approximately nine minutes after the aircraft came to rest, a firefighter was fatally injured as a result of the explosion of the centre fuel tank,” the report said.

As per the report, soon after the aircraft runway awareness advisory system announced ‘long landing long landing’, the plane became air-borne in an attempt to go-around.

Seconds later, the landing gear lever was selected to the up position and subsequently, the landing gear unlocked and began to retract, it added.

While the air traffic control tower issued clearance to continue straight ahead and climb to 4,000 feet, the aircraft reached a maximum height of about 85 feet RA (Radio Altitude) at 134 knots IAS (Indicated Air Speed), with the landing gear in transit to the retracted position.

“The aircraft then began to sink back onto the runway… seconds before impact with the runway,” the report said.