DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A long-haul Emirates flight heading to Washington in December failed to properly climb and flew incredibly low and fast over the city-state before later gaining altitude over the sea, investigators acknowledged Thursday.
No one was injured in the Dec. 19 flight, but such low altitudes and high speeds can cause damage to an aircraft and increases the risk of striking a tall building. Tracking data suggests Flight No. EK231 was just 200 feet off the ground at points as it flew over Dubai’s Deira neighborhood before reaching the Persian Gulf.
The initial report by the General Civil Aviation Authority said the pilot flying the Boeing 777 for the nighttime departure had put the plane’s altitude selector to 4,000 feet, which is standard. The pilot also said she followed the instructions of the plane’s onboard computer, the report said.
However, the plane flew low and fast. Investigators say they recovered data from the plane, but the cockpit voice recorder had been “overwritten,” without elaborating.
Investigators say their final report will focus on “the root cause of the shallow climb of the aircraft and the crew performance.”
Emirates, a state-owned airline in Dubai, declined to comment Thursday. The Air Current, a website focused on the aviation industry, first reported on the incident.