Register for our free newsletter

Latest News

Emirates emergency landing: “staff panicked more than the passengers”

Emirates Airline

The report on Emirates Airline's engine failure at 10,000 feet really worries us, but the passenger reviews worry us even more.

November 13, 2012 9:24 by

“It’s not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you” is a quote that Kipp is particularly fond of.

Passengers on board an Emirates aircraft were distraught as a Dubai-bound flight that took off from Sydney was forced to turn back 20 minutes later and make an emergency landing as one of its engines reportedly exploded. At the time, the plane was at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Countless brands and multinational conglomerates have become very adapt at articulating their unwavering philosophies, values and policies upon which they govern themselves. At the end of the day, nobody pays much attention when times are good, but when challenges arise; people can then experience the sometimes harsh reality themselves.

“Emirates is still investigating the cause of the fault and apologises for any inconvenience caused to its customers, however the safety of our passengers and crew is of the highest priority and will not be compromised,” the airline was quoted in a statement.

According to the Daily Telegraph, passengers claimed to both feel and hear a rather loud explosion, see a bright flash of orange and notice one of the wings ‘catch fire’. Whether or not a fire did erupt has not been confirmed because of contradicting testimonies from various passengers. The Dubai-based airline later issued an additional statement denying it but they did admit that passengers may have indeed seen a flash.

“I saw a flash,” John Fothergill, 49, from Auckland, said to the paper. “I thought it could have been lightning but then we saw flames come out of the engine. The whole interior of the A380 lit up. You’d have to say there were 2m or 3m flames. (The) explosion shook the plane.”

For an aircraft to resort to an emergency landing – even as a mere precautionary measure – is sadly not uncommon in the aviation world. In fact, Emirates Airline has had more than a few ‘engine fault’ situations in recent days including a Dubai-JFK flight that was forced to land at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris the day before this incident, and an A330 that had an engine failure taking off from Lusaka in October.

One of the passengers, a doctor, criticised the staff on not being organised and neglecting to attend to the Arabic-speaking passengers. Now, Kipp is merely echoing various media reports and framing them into perspective but when a world-class airline – that has now become internationally renowned for its service – finds itself in a pickle at 10,000 feet above the ground, one would expect to read more positive reviews than what Dr. Amal Aburawi and some of the other passengers said.

“The staff panicked more than the passengers.”

“I’m a frequent flyer on Emirates,” continued Dr Aburawi. “Usually its Arabic announcement following the English, this time no one mentioned anything in Arabic and there (were) many Arabic passengers, many of them old ladies.”

Emirates Airline released an apology statement and announced that all passengers were ‘being re-booked on alternative flights’.



  1. Sven on November 13, 2012 10:47 am

    What would have been held back? I would suspect everything.

  2. M. Aldalou on November 13, 2012 10:52 am

    Good point! I figured if it were primarily reported here, there would be a lot of hush-hush especially on how the staff were.

  3. Robert on November 13, 2012 11:21 am

    Sometimes Kipp it sounds like you only just got off the airplane. You know that the Gulf News does not print any potentially negative Emirates stories; In the last two weeks there have been at least four inflight engine failures – A380s returning to Sydney and the JFK flight landing at Paris; a 777 from BKK diverting to Mumbai and an A330 that had an uncontained engine failure taking off from Lusaka – this last one may have been a bird strike. If the Gulf News does report an incident it will be some days later and only after an official announcement from EK which will be the basis of the story. Of course should there be an incident involving a non UAE airline then the Gulf News will be all over it like a rash !!

  4. M. Aldalou on November 13, 2012 11:28 am

    Robert, I couldn’t agree more with you. As you mentioned there have been stories where the local media wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole unless the basis would just be the airline’s very GENERIC statement. When you say it sounds like we just got off the plane, is that a good or bad thing?

  5. rani on November 13, 2012 2:18 pm

    let them change the whole of marketing and communication team … with their slogan hello tomorrow its hello bad service .. they are no more transparent,
    a flight to paris had a same incident and none talked about it .

  6. Robert on November 13, 2012 10:16 pm

    Dear Kipp, I was teasing you. You asked what might have been held back in this story like an innocent new arrival fresh to the city rather than the hard-bitten, worldly-wise commentator on all things Dubai that we know you to be ! Go back to the Melbourne incident (A340-500) in March 2009 and compare coverage in the Herald-Sun and the Gulf News.

  7. zouzou on November 13, 2012 10:25 pm

    emirates airlines is growing arrogant. their ad campaign is so bad . the use of tomorrow in advertisement is for brands that have nothing today. how an awesome brand as Emirates with such track record accepted to drop the “keep discovering” campaign to a promise for tomorrow.? Kipp should investigate Emirates airlines marketing misses… or would you lose your ad revenues?

  8. M. Aldalou on November 14, 2012 8:58 am

    Thank you Robert! Yeah I suppose Kipp was just hoping to see how many of our readers are also hard-bitten worldly-wise commentators!

    Zouzou, your comment is funny but worth considering as well!

  9. Omar Khan on November 14, 2012 3:12 pm

    Guys come on…….engine explodes or catches fire based on which witness you believe, and Emirates lands the plane safely, and these are the straws that you are grasping at.

    “Yes we are safe, and no one died or got hurt, but the staff didnt make the announcement in all languages”

    A point to mention, but is it article-worthy, and are you trying to say all staff in the whole of Emirates fleet would have behaved this way and this is common practice? What is the lens that you are trying to have us look through Kipp?

  10. M. Aldalou on November 14, 2012 3:18 pm

    Omar, We appreciate and understand your comment. Naturally it is more important that the plane landed safely and that nobody was hurt. We are not forcing any lens for you to look through but as you said, it is worth mentioning that a witness has said that the staff panicked even more than the passengers. Would all the staff in every plane have behaved the same way? Nobody can know but we just want people to make their own judgement.

  11. John on November 15, 2012 12:50 am

    The passengers claiming that the crew were panicking is wrongly interpreted here. The crew is trained to deal with situations like these, which in this case, is to leave everything they are doing and run to the nearest window to see which engine is affected, whether fire or smoke is present, and the colour of the smoke, and then report this via interphone to the Captain. Remember, the engines are not visable from the cockpit, and the Captain relies on the crew to pass on this vital information which could save the lives of hundres of people. Of course it would be scary to see the crew running around and being a little anxious, but at this stage it is inevitable that adrenalin is running high, and crew have to split second decisions. In an incident like this time is vital and the safety of the aircraft and passengers takes priority over making PA’s in different languages, the first and only priority is to get the aircraft safely on ground, which the Emirates Crew succeeded in doing. Before critisizing the Crew, rather thank them for saving your lives! Well done Emirates!

    PS: It’s sad to see that the media buys into rubbish reports from passengers, for example, if an engine explodes and a wing is on fire, its very unlikely that anybody would have lived to tell the tale!!!

  12. Dhandapani on November 16, 2012 7:02 am

    Hi all
    Unexpected problems happen & require full analysis to avoid & tackle in future.

    I am neither critising the passengers for their fears nor on the comments by other readers, but I agree that some attendants of EK flights are not behaving properly.

    Because of them whole crew is getting a bad image & it is neither correct to judge a crew based on a few attendants nor to apreciate a crew as these few also form a sample in that crew!!

    I want to add my personal observations here. I have travelled 4 times in Emirates flights & one time when asked for water, the attendant showed empty bottle indicating water has exhausted before my seats. Even reminding her to bring back, not attended. Similarly, next back seat passenger was also dejected as she showed him two empty water bottles without bringing back any water. Here, sufficient service or even basic human curtacy itself not seen!.

    One time we (8 passengers) were connecing at Dubai for next flight. As the arrival time of first flight was delayed, we boarded the connecting flight lastly. As we were sweating due to busy flight transfers, three of us requested for wet refreshment hankies like the other passengers already boarded and offered the same but the attendants neglected us. Even a sorry in the worst case would have comforted us a lot!. Flight delays are not our problems & they only rushed us for the connecting flight to avoid their unnecessary expenses like boarding, lodging, rescheduling etc., until the next vacant available flight. We spent Pounds for the tickets and got dejected for a penny hankies which shows a clear partiality in service/ lack of behavioural training.

    Except for the few exceptions, the EK flight in total is good & wish to be better!!

  13. John on November 21, 2012 5:23 pm

    Hi Dhandapani

    We are discussing Aircraft safety issues here, not service.

    Firstly, few people realize that Cabin Crew are actually Safety officers and that 90% of their job revolves around operating the aircraft and ensuring passenger safety. They are not primarily waiters, and the service of food and drinks comes strictly after their safety duties.

    The reason why they couldn’t offer you wet refreshing cloths was probably because you were late like you mentioned, and the cloths had already been disposed of. Now I’m sure they would have been happy to serve you with towels after take off when there is plenty of time… The Cabin Crew is primarily responsible for an on time departure, and when you asked for a wet towel, they were probably already in the Cabin Secure/Door arming phase of the flight. At this time they are doing safety checks and security duties required by law and have to give the ready for takeoff checks to the captain before the plane can take off. Sorry there was no time for your wet towel at this stage… Next time when you travel, take some wet dispensable cloths with you available at any pharmacy/supermarket for less than a dollar.


Leave a Comment