Dubai retrieving black boxes of Emirates plane after crash

An Emirates Airline flight is seen after it crash-landed at Dubai International Airport, the UAE on Aug 3.
An Emirates Airline flight is seen after it crash-landed at Dubai International Airport, the UAE on Aug 3.PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBAI (BLOOMBERG) - Authorities began retrieving evidence from the wreckage of a Boeing Co 777-300 airliner a day after the Emirates plane crash-landed in Dubai and burst into flames, with a focus on the landing gear that did not deploy before touchdown.

A team of investigators from the United Arab Emirates' General Civil Aviation Authority is working to recover the plane's flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders, the regulator said Thursday (Aug 4) in a statement.

The devices, known as black boxes, will be sent to the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi for laboratory analysis, it said.

Representatives from Boeing, engine producer Rolls-Royce and Emirates will be advisers in the probe of what the GCAA termed an "accident".

Emirates Flight 521 was arriving at Dubai International Airport early Wednesday afternoon from the south-west Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram when it hit the runway and burst into flames. All 300 passengers and crew members aboard were able to evacuate.

The wreckage will be removed to a secure location for examination, and the GCAA plans to release a preliminary report in a month, the regulator said.

Dubai airport, the world's busiest by international traffic, was closed for about 5½ hours before resuming restricted operations Wednesday evening. A second runway opened Thursday evening and operations were expected to return to normal in 48 hours, according to the facility's operator. Some flights were diverted to Dubai's second hub, Al Maktoum International Airport.

HIGH TEMPERATURES

The pilot may have sought to abort the landing to avoid wind shear as Dubai's summer temperatures were nearing 50 deg C, Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said at a press conference late Wednesday, noting that it was difficult to speculate on the cause of the crash. Asked about the status of the landing gear, which television footage showed was not deployed, Sheikh Ahmed replied that the plane had been maintained and checked.

Emirates, the world's biggest airline by international traffic, said it expects schedule disruptions for the next 36 hours. The carrier scrapped 27 flights and diverted another 23 to locations including the UAE emirates of Sharjah, Fujairah and Al Ain as well as the capitals of the nearby countries of Oman and Bahrain. More than 23,000 passengers were affected.

Dubai has focused on diversifying its economy away from oil, including setting up one of the world's biggest aviation hubs to challenge European aviation industry leaders such as Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG. The crash is the worst incident in the 31-year history of Emirates, which is owned by Dubai's government.