February 6, 2020 / 11:50 AM / 16 days ago

RPT-UPDATE 2-Emirates crew failed to monitor settings in 2016 crash, probe finds

(Fixed typo)

By Alexander Cornwell

Feb 6 (Reuters) - Investigators on Thursday said pilots failed to monitor engine settings ahead of the crash of an Emirates jet at Dubai airport more than three years ago, in which all 300 passengers and crew safely evacuated but a firefighter died. The plane caught fire after skidding along the airport runway on its fuselage while trying to abort a landing.

Pilots on the flight from India in August 2016 did not notice that the Boeing 777-300's engine thrust settings remained too low and also missed out part of a cockpit procedure, investigators said.

The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority said the pilots of flight EK521 tried to abort the landing after the plane's main wheels had already touched down, cutting off automatic access to full engine power.

"The flight crew did not effectively scan and monitor the primary flight instrumentation parameters during the landing and the attempted go-around," the agency said in its final report.

It said the crew's reliance on automation and a lack of training for flying go-arounds - or aborted landings - from close to the runway surface "significantly affected the flight crew performance in a critical flight situation".

It recommended that Emirates enhance go-around training for its pilots and that manufacturer Boeing enhance its crew alerting system and manual to deal with such eventualities.

Emirates said it had already taken various measures in response to preliminary findings and an internal probe.

"Maintaining safe operations is a top priority at Emirates, and we are committed to the continuous review and improvement of our operations," the airline said in a statement.

The crash forced Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, to temporarily close, and remains the worst incident in Emirates' nearly 35-year history.

The Boeing 777 was being flown by the captain. Both pilots were relatively experienced and fatigue was not a factor.

The pilots had been warned of a possibility of shifting winds, or 'wind shear,' as they came into land but not that two other aircraft had just performed two go-around procedures for aborted landings.

Flight EK521 impacted the runway 18 seconds after the pilot attempted a go-around manoeuvre. The aircraft slid along the runway for 32 seconds over a distance of 800 metres.

The Boeing 777 remained intact though several mounted components separated from the aircraft.

Nearly ten minutes after coming to a halt, the Boeing 777 was engulfed in flames, and subsequently destroyed, after the centre wing tank exploded.

The explosion caused a panel to fall from the aircraft, which struck and fatally injured the firefighter.

All passengers and flight crew, except for the commander and a senior cabin crew member, had evacuated before the explosion. The report praised the cabin crew for the evacuation.

The final report raised the number of injured people to 32 from 30, including four cabin crew members who sustained serious injuries. (Reporting by Tim Hepher & Alexander Cornwell; editing by Jason Neely and Alexandra Hudson)

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