Last week Emirates flight EK-231 from Dubai to Washington Dulles “was accelerating for takeoff from Dubai’s runway 30R when the aircraft rotated for takeoff past the end of the runway” and the Boeing 777-300 (registration A6-EQI) continued anyway – all the way to DC. It even flew back to Dubai as scheduled, but the aircraft was then grounded for four days after it returned. The FAA is investigating.
[The plane] remained on the ground until accelerating through at least 216 knots over ground about 4400 meters/14400 feet past the runway threshold and about 90 meters short of the localizer antennas, was airborne at 75 feet AGL at 234 knots over ground already over the first residential houses past the runway (5640 meters/18500 feet past the runway threshold), then climbed out to safety.
Cockpit Of An Emirates Boeing 777
Apparently the plane “sustained some damage in the departure” though the specifics aren’t clear. Reportedly four crew members were terminated because of the incident.
Emirates sent their pilots a crew alert on December 27th suggesting the plane’s altitude setting was left at the airport’s elevation.
According to One Mile at a Time the aircraft’s nose pitched down after takeoff “to the point that the plane was at 175 feet and flying at 262 knots.” The plane “was descending right after takeoff, to the point that it was lower than many high rises in Dubai, and flying at a very fast pace.”
At Washington Dulles the aircraft was inspected for cracks and also checked for wing, flap, and landing gear damage before being allowed to return to Dubai.
Emirates Boeing 777
Notably this all happened at Emirates’ home airport where pilots should be especially familiar with every nuance of the airport and positions around it.