Emirates flight to Washington 'flew at low altitude on take-off from Dubai'

General Civil Aviation Authority classified the event as a 'serious incident'

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An Emirates flight that was heading to Washington flew at a low altitude as it took off from Dubai, a preliminary report by the UAE’s aviation authority into the incident has said.

No one was injured in flight EK231 on December 19, which landed uneventfully at Washington's Dulles International Airport, but the aircraft's initial take-off experienced an unexplained shallow climb.

The Boeing 777-300ER flight had 372 people on board, including 354 passengers, 14 cabin crew and four flight crew members.

The report by the General Civil Aviation Authority, which classified the event as a “serious incident”, said the pilot put the plane’s altitude selector to 4,000 feet (1,219 metres), which is standard procedure, having noticed that it was set to 0000 feet.

After the aircraft lifted off, the landing gears were retracted, but the rate of climb was initially low, reaching around 800 feet per minute.

“The commander stated that after lift-off, and during climb, she followed the flight director command,” the GCAA report said.

“However, the aircraft rate of climb reached a maximum of approximately 800 feet per minute. The flight crew were not able to adhere to published climb gradient of the SID (standard instrument departure) due to the shallow climb.”

The report also says that the cockpit voice recorder file was “overwritten”.

Investigations into the incident are ongoing, which will examine the root cause of the shallow climb and crew performance. A final report will be issued in due course.

Updated: February 18, 2022, 9:38 AM