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Emirates crash raises questions about aircraft quality on some sectors
August 6, 2016, 4:50 pm

The belly-landing and flames that engulfed an Emirates Boeing 777-300 last week as it attempted to land at Dubai International Airport, continues to wreck flight schedules and strand passengers in what is the world’s busiest airport for international passengers.

Emirates flight EK521 carrying 282 passengers and 18 crew members was travelling from the southern Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai, when it crash-landed and caught fire on the afternoon of 3 August.

Luckily there was no loss of lives onboard, though a few suffered minor injuries, as passengers and crew managed to safely evacuate the plane. One fatality from the incident was that of firefighter Jassim Eisa Al Baloushi, who died on duty while putting out the fire.

One of the airport’s two runways was damaged in the incident and closed for 29 hours; an official investigation into the incident is currently underway.
On Friday, former Indian minister Shashi Tharoor weighed in on the accident by voicing concern over the “visibly inferior” aircrafts that Emirates operates on its Kerala routes relative to aircraft on its European and North American sector.

Writing on his Facebook page, Tharoor said, “I have taken flights on this route many times myself and have been concerned about the age and condition of the aircraft Emirates seems to use on this sector. These are visibly inferior to the aircraft on Emirates' European sectors, for example.”

His comments came in the wake of reports in local media that the 13-year-old Emirates aircraft had flown 60 hours in five days prior to its crash-landing in Dubai. While the cause of the crash is still being investigated, Mr. Tharoor, a former UN diplomat, called on Emirates “to investigate not only the specific circumstances of this crash-landing but also to review their policy on the type, age and quality of aircraft used on the Dubai-Kerala sector.”

However, experts point out that Emirates is not the only airline that allegedly reserves “inferior” aircrafts for the Indian sector. Captain Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation safety consultant notes, “Many airlines use the worst aircrafts for the Indian sector.” However, he blamed the Indian civil aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for not hauling up leading airlines for their poor quality of aircrafts.

“The regulator keeps quiet. This is a prime sector in international aviation,” said Capt. Ranganathan, adding, “Unless the DGCA intervenes and finds out the age and quality of aircrafts used on the Indian sector, the standards are unlikely to change.”

Meanwhile, three days after the incident the situation was only slowly limping back to normal on Saturday at Dubai International Airport as more than 100 flights remained cancelled. At least 21 airlines cancelled 109 flights to and from cities in China, India, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. While thousands of transit passengers were accommodated in the city’s various hotels and residents were being advised to check their flight status before proceeding to the airport, many more remained stranded at the airport awaiting the first flight out.

Indian carriers Jet Airways, Spice Jet and Air India Express had cancelled a majority of their flights. A Jet Airways senior manager said that they were flying out a Boeing 777 aircraft from Mumbai to accommodate more passengers and clear backlogs as they had cancelled most of their flights in the last two days.

Some passengers complained of increased ticket costs to change their flights. One lady who wanted to change her cancelled flight to India on Indian Airlines to Emirates Airlineswas miffed when she found she had to pay an extra Dh1,500 for the new seat. The lady was traveling from Dubai to Amritsar in India, complained, “The authorities at the airport told me only flydubai and Emirates flights were being given priority. So I had to cancel a Dh500 ticket on Indian Airlines and buy a Dh2,000 Emirates airline ticket to New Delhi as the demand is too high.”


Share your views
Arief  Posted on : August 09, 2016 7:18 am
I totally agree with Shashi thaoor,s point , I been in gulf so many years and travelled almost all the airlines too , inferrior and age of the flight are least bothered for India routes , even though for all the flights the Indian sector is highly profitable sector and 90% of the flights are always busy in the Indian continent route and geographically Indians are Richely populated in gulf states , I think all the airports and flights flying to the Indian continent has to reviewed and comply with standard security norms in terms of flight age and quality of treatment
LD  Posted on : August 07, 2016 1:36 pm
I agree with the point that some airlines use inferior aircrafts for the Indian sector. I have personally travelled on jet airways, and the aircraft is usually packed to capacity but quite claustrophobic as its a small aircraft and the flight time is also more compared to when a bigger aircraft is used.

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