PILOT ERROR – Emirates Flight 521 Crash Report Released

By Ankur Deo | February 22, 2020

On August 3, 2016, an Emirates Boeing 777-300 was operating a scheduled flight, EK521, from Trivandrum International Airport, India (VOTV) to Dubai International Airport (DXB). While landing in Dubai, the aircraft attempted to abort landing and fly a go-around when it crash landed, and caught fire.

The aircraft, registered as A6-EMV, was severely damaged, and while the 300 passengers and crew were safely evacuated, the accident resulted in death of a firefighter. Immediately after the incident, reports stated that the aircraft had issues with its landing gear, suggesting that the gear did not fully extend and the aircraft had to land on its belly. However, the final report by General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which was recently released, points to pilot mistake and highlights that there were no issues with the Boeing 777-300’s systems or its two Rolls-Royce engines.

Without power from the engines to lift the plane, Flight EK521 was doomed to crash. ©

The events of that unfortunate day are now clearly understood, as below:

The report listed four main causes for the crash:

1. During the attempted go-around, except for the last three seconds prior to impact, both engine thrust levers, and therefore engine thrust, remained at idle. Consequently, the Aircraft’s energy state was insufficient to sustain flight.

2. The flight crew did not effectively scan and monitor the primary flight instrumentation parameters during the landing and the attempted go-around.

3. The flight crew were unaware that the auto-throttle (A/T) had not responded to move the engine thrust levers to the TO/GA position after the Commander pushed the TO/GA switch at the initiation of the FCOM ̶ Go-around and Missed Approach Procedure.

4. The flight crew did not take corrective action to increase engine thrust because they omitted the engine thrust verification steps of the FCOM ̶ Go-around and Missed Approach Procedure.

The report concluded by saying:

The flight crew reliance on automation and lack of training in flying go-arounds from close to the runway significantly affected the flight crew performance in a critical flight situation which was different to that experienced by them during their simulated training flights.

The report also highly praised the cabin crew for their utmost professional standard in evacuating all passengers on-board.

An airplane is indeed a complex machine. Every accident brings into limelight issues that were previously not addressed, which must now be focused on. Accidents are unfortunate, however, analyzing the events and learning from them certainly leads to a safer future. Post the accident, Emirates has rigorously improved their training program.

What are your thoughts on this report? Let us know in the comments!



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