Two Aussies Caught Up In Plane Fire Which Killed Firefighter
An Emirates jet flying from India caught fire after slumping onto the runway in Dubai, killing one firefighter and bringing the world's busiest international airport to a halt for several hours.
All 300 passengers, which included two Australians, and crew were safely evacuated from the gutted Boeing 777-300 after a crash that one survivor described as terrifying. Fourteen people were admitted to hospital.
The carrier's first significant accident happened after the crew apparently attempted to abort the landing for a second attempt amid unconfirmed witness reports of landing gear problems.
Video showed a tower of flame bursting from the front of the plane, and then a thick black plume of smoke rising into the sky. Reuters was unable to verify the footage independently.
Photographs on social media showed a plane lying crumpled on the tarmac with black smoke pouring from its upper section, and later images showed a gap along the length of the charred fuselage where its roof had been.
"It was actually really terrifying. As we were landing there was smoke coming out in the cabin," said passenger Sharon Maryam Sharji.
"People were screaming and we had a very hard landing.
"We left by going down the emergency slides and as we were leaving on the runway we could see the whole plane catch fire. It was horrifying."
Another passenger leaving the airport with his family said there had been a problem with the landing gear.
A spokesman for operator Dubai Airports said everyone aboard flight EK521 coming from Thiruvananthapuram in southern India had been evacuated.
Flights at Dubai International resumed at 6.30pm on Wednesday (2330 AEST) after all arrivals and departures were suspended for over five hours, authorities said.
According to air traffic control recordings cited by Aviation Herald, a respected independent website monitoring air accidents, controllers at Dubai reminded the crew of the Boeing 777 to lower the landing gear as it came into approach.
Shortly afterwards, the crew announced they were aborting the landing to "go around," a routine procedure for which pilots are well trained. But the aircraft came to rest near the end of the runway instead, Aviation Herald reported.
Emirates initially said there were 275 passengers and crew aboard the plane, in service with the airline since 2003, but later updated that number to 282 passengers and 18 crew.
Both the airline and aircraft have a solid safety record. It is the first time an aircraft operated by Emirates has been damaged beyond repair since the carrier was founded in the 1980s.
Airline chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said the plane had undergone maintenance in 2015 and that the pilot had over 7,000 hours of flying experience.
Safety experts said it was too early to pinpoint a cause for the crash, but Sheikh Ahmed ruled out any security breach.
AAP; Top Photo: AAP