Emirates Under Investigation following Dangerous Low-level Flying incident

Photo: Emriates Airlines Boeing 777-300ER; photo credit: Emirates

LONDON – With the new investigation report released on Friday, it was found that an Emirates pilot did a ‘dangerous’ high speed, low altitude fly-by over Dubai skies just before the cockpit voice recorder was mysteriously ‘Overwritten’. On 19th December 2021, an Emirates flight EK 231, the long-haul service to Washington with 380 passengers on board when it failed to properly climb, did incredibly low fly by with high speed over the city-state before it gained altitude over the sea. 

As explained by the authorities, no fatalities or injuries were reported, but such low altitude and high speed can cause damage to an aircraft and increase the risk of striking a building or ground objects. 

The investigation further revealed that the tracking data of flight EK231 was just 200 feet off the ground as it flew over the Deira suburb in Dubai before reaching the Persian Gulf. The initial report by the General Civil Aviation Authority said that the pilot flying the Boeing 777 for the redeye departure had put the altitude selector to 4000 feet as per the normal Standard Operating Procedures. The captain in charge of this flight also reported in front of the investigators that ‘she was following instructions as per the onboard computer’.

Meanwhile, the investigators recovered the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and found that the aircraft was flying extremely low and fast with 216 knots (248 mph) and later accelerated to 269 mph with just 75ft off the ground. But shocking revelations suggested that, while this was occurring, the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) was ‘overwritten’.

As the initial report was published, Emirates declined to comment, meanwhile, U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said that “The FAA is aware of this incident. But the Civil Aviation Authorities in the UAE are in charge of this investigation.”

The final report of this investigation is yet to be revealed but will focus on ‘the root cause of the shallow climb of the aircraft and crew performance.’

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