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Emirates A380 Airbus was 25 seconds away from smashing into a Moscow suburb... - Emirates_Airbus_A380_came_within_120_meters_above_ a_Moscow.jpg ...
....when its pilots failed to realize how low they were and controller struggled
to speak to them in English
*The plane, the world's largest airliner, was just 25 seconds away from crashing
*It came to just 120 meters above the Gorki Leninskiye suburb before pulling up
*The crew mistakenly thought the plane was too high and entered rapid descent
*A report said this was another example of pilots not keeping up with automation
*The passengers had no idea they were just seconds away from their deaths
A large airplane carrying 448 people was seconds away from disaster as the crew
believed the plane was higher than it actually was, narrowly avoiding crashing
into a Moscow suburb.
The crew of an Emirates Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliners,
descended far below the intended flight path after mistakenly believing that the
plane was much higher than it was.
In order to correct this, the crew of Flight EK-131 entered a rapid descent.
However, they were wrong about their initial assumption that their glidescope, a
landing instrument, was showing them the incorrect information.
Investigators in the United Arab Emirates portrayed the incident as that latest
to demonstrate pilots' failure to stay up to date with modern automated flight
'The [first officer's] action in attempting to join the glideslope from above
was because of the false indication that the aircraft was high due to the
invalid glideslope deviation, and his perception that the aircraft would be
established on the localiser very soon,' an inquiry into the incident said.
'In fact, the actual aircraft position was already below the glideslope, and the
aircraft would have established on the localiser far beyond his expectation.'
They took the plane down to 504 feet (153 meters) above ground as it was
travelling at 195mph and dropping at a rate of 1,600 feet per minute while still
8.5 miles away from Domodedovo airport. It was just 25 seconds away from hitting
Despite the controller ordering the pilots to stop their descent, the Russian
had to repeat his instructions three times due to his command of English.
At this point, with automated terrain warnings blaring, the the captain realised
the error and took over the controls, pulling the plane up in an emergency
maneuver to avoid crashing into Moscow's Gorki Leninskiye suburb below.
Weighing over 300 tonnes and banking in a turn, the plane still lost a further
109 feet (38 meters) before it began gaining altitude again, meaning the plane
was just 395 feet (120 meters) above the suburb.
At its lowest, the plane was only one and a half times its own wingspans above
the ground. The passengers on board had no idea how close they came to their
deaths, and details of the near-miss have only become publicly available after
The inquiry found that the plane, flying from Dubai to Moscow in September 2017,
was travelling in good weather and in the dark when the incident occurred.
At the time, the co-pilot, 39, was at the controls while being monitored by the
54-year-old captain. The co-pilot, who had been under a heavy workload, lowered
the 'superjumbo' to intercept the landing system's signals that guide an
aircraft to the runway.
However, the co-pilot had started this process too early and the plane was too
far away from the airport for the signal to be reliable. According to
investigators from the United Arab Emirates Civil Aviation Authority, he
continued to descend thinking he was on the normal path, but failed to check
altitude with his instruments.
'The commander [...] was concentrating on communications with air traffic
control to such an extent that his situational awareness of what was occurring
in the cockpit and of the actual aircraft state was significantly degraded,' the
According to The Times, It took the crew a third attempt to land due to further
errors made in setting up their automated system causing the crew to abort a
second landing before touching down safely on their third attempt.
No voice recording was available to investigators due to the crew not reporting
the incident quickly enough. The return flight to Dubai overwrote the recording
from the first flight. The report criticised the crew for not reporting it
quickly enough to preserve the recordings.
Instead, they had to piece the incident together with what was available on the
black box and the recordings from the airport's traffic control.
While the investigators said this incident was another demonstration of pilots
not being able to keep up with modern flight automation technology, the report
also blamed the crew for its poor judgement due to 'insufficient communication
and co-ordination between them'.
The report added that while the captain's role of monitoring his co-pilot was
not helped by the first officer's decision to 'improvise' in order to intercept
the flight path, it added that 'no action by either flightcrew member took place
to stop the aircraft from descending.'
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