SYDNEY, Mar 21 – An Emirates flight with 225 passengers on board made an emergency landing in the Australian city of Melbourne after the Airbus A340’s tail struck the tarmac during take-off, officials said Saturday.,
Flight EK407, headed for Dubai, circled the airport for more than 30 minutes to dump fuel before landing safely and without any injuries to passengers late Friday.
"It was what’s known in the industry as a tail hit at take-off. It took off very steeply, the tail touched the end of the runway, and it (the plane) went up, stabilised and came back," said a spokesman for Melbourne airport.
Passengers described their fear as the plane had to circle to lighten its load of fuel before returning to land.
"It was terrifying, it really was scary. I’d hate to go through it again," Catherine Edmunds told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"We were floating round there for about 45 minutes dumping fuel and it was very quiet on board, a bit scary," said another passenger, Andrea Law.
Emirates said in a statement it would conduct an investigation into the incident.
"Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused to the passengers. The safety of our passengers and crew is top priority," the statement said.
Passengers and crew were provided with hotel accommodation and alternative travel arrangements on the next available flights.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman Ian Brokenshire said several factors could cause a "tail hit" including weather conditions, loading issues and handling.
"It is a hazard, particularly on the longer aircraft," he said.