Injured passengers including British citizens on Emirates Flight EK 521 from India to the UAE have won the right to sue Boeing in the United States where the company is headquartered, a US court has ruled.

The accident occurred on 3 August 2016 when the crew flying Boeing 777 prepared to land at Dubai International Airport. An alarm sounded to warn the crew that the aircraft would overrun the runway if they continued with the landing, as the aircraft had touched down too far along the runway. Following guidance provided by Emirates and approved by Boeing, the crew pressed the TO/GA (Take off and Go Around) switch to commence a go-around, and the aircraft became airborne once more. This should have meant power would have flooded back into the engines, but the wheels touching down inhibited the switch meaning the power was prevented from returning to the engines. The aircraft crashed into the runway and a fire erupted on impact.

The crew evacuated passengers from the burning wreckage as smoke filled their lungs. Nine minutes after the aircraft came to rest, with all crew and passengers evacuated the centre fuel tank exploded tragically killing a firefighter battling the blaze.

Stewarts in London and Wisner Law in Chicago are representing the passengers.

Peter Neenan, a partner at Stewarts, comments:

“Our clients are not critical of Emirates and feel that the crew performed heroically in the evacuation. Their claim is against Boeing for a switch that, without warning, did not function as expected.”

Floyd Wisner, Partner at Wisner Law, comments:

“This is only the first stage in this claim. The defendant, Boeing, has made it clear that they dispute that the accident was their fault. Nevertheless, this was an avoidable accident. The primary factor which caused the accident was the design logic that prevented the TO/GA switch from working and allowing power to be directed to the engines. Whether that was a failure in the design or a failure on the part of Boeing to properly warn the crew about the problem is a matter which is yet to be decided. What is clear is it was not the passengers’ fault.”

Dr Shahid Rasheed from Scarborough travelling with his wife and two children recalled:

“I remember asking my wife and children to go down into the brace position and thinking the worst. After the plane stopped skidding the cabin filled with smoke. My son, who has asthma, was struggling to breathe. We escaped quickly and watched from a distance as the plane erupted into flames. It was horrific.”