GCAA Report: Emirates Turbulence Encounter Results in Injuries

An Emirates A380 approaching to land on a cloudy day.
Malokkii, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has issued a preliminary report on a severe turbulence incident involving Emirates flight EK421 on December 4, 2023.

The Airbus A380-800 aircraft, traveling from Perth, Australia (YPPH) to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (OMDB), encountered unexpected turbulence approximately seven hours into the flight.

This resulted in injuries to passengers and crew, as well as damage to the cabin interior.

Emirates Flight EK421 Perth-Dubai

Flight Details and Crew

The flight was operated by a three-person cockpit crew, consisting of the Captain (Pilot Flying – PF), Copilot (Pilot Monitoring – PM), and an Augmenting Captain in the observer role.

The Captain reported briefing the cabin crew on expected weather conditions but did not highlight any potential for severe turbulence due to its absence in the pre-flight operational plan.

Turbulence Encounter and Injuries

The aircraft took off uneventfully from Perth. While cruising within the Male Flight Information Region (FIR), the crew observed cloud formations suggestive of potential turbulence.

 The Commander stated that there was an off-path cell forming at the 11 o’clock position.

The augmenting captain also stated seeing clouds below the aircraft. He noted off-path weather about 10 nautical miles ahead as a low layer of clouds significantly below the aircraft.

Shortly after, at approximately 21:05 UTC, the aircraft encountered severe turbulence, causing serious injuries to five occupants and minor injuries to 23 others. Medical personnel on board provided initial assessments.

Decision to Continue and Landing

Following consultation with the flight crew, cabin supervisor, and onboard medical professionals, the Captain made the decision to continue the flight to Dubai.

The Augmenting Captain reported a medical emergency being declared upon entering Dubai airspace.

Medical Attention in Dubai

Upon landing in Dubai, medical services were on standby to assist the injured. A total of 14 individuals received medical evaluation.

Two passengers and three crew sustained serious injuries and other passengers and crew members experienced minor injuries.

The aircraft sustained damage to the cabin interior, necessitating maintenance upon arrival at OMDB.

Emirates flight EK421 was operated by an Airbus A380-800 registered A6-EEV, a 10.3-year-old widebody aircraft part of the Emirates fleet.


The Investigation examined the weather information provided to the flight crew on the day of the Accident.

The forecast for the flight segment over Male FIR indicated the presence of Cumulonimbus (CB) cells.

These were expected to be associated with moderate/severe turbulence and with icing. Additionally, the eastern part of India was impacted by the active cyclone “Michaung,” leading to heavy rainfall and flooding.

While most flights are smooth, inflight turbulence remains a potential hazard. It can cause sudden drops, jolts, and sideways movements, throwing passengers and unsecured items around.

This can lead to serious injuries, especially for those not buckled up or not properly secured in their seats. While flights will try to avoid known turbulence zones whenever possible, it can be unpredictable.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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