Authorities have revealed that the cockpit recording of EK231 was mysteriously “overwritten” as investigators seek to piece together what caused the flight to fly dangerously low over Dubai late in 2021.
EK231 Cockpit Recording Is “Overwitten” As Investigation Continues
EK231, traveling from Dubai (DXB) to Washington (IAD), took off 2:25am on December 19, 2021. Flight data shows the Boeing 777-300 flew far too low and fast over Diera City Center, a heavily-populated neighborhood surrounding Dubai International Airport.
After the incident, Emirates sent its pilots a memo warning them not set the altitude selector to zero at the end of a flight because it could negatively impact the next crew.
Because the low altitude flight at high speeds potentially put the lives of those on the ground and the 374 passengers and crew onboard in jeopardy, Dubai’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) launched an investigation into the incident.
This week, the GCAA released its initial report, which confirms the aircraft failed to properly climb after takeoff and did fly far too low and fast. It also states the 42-year-old captain claims she did set the plane’s altitude selector to 4,000 feet and followed the instructions of the plane’s computer during takeoff, which cockpit data appears to backup.
(Editor’s note – perhaps a 777 pilot can help us understand, in the comments section, how the computer provides takeoff instructions)
Authorities also stated that the cockpit voice recorder had been “overwritten,” without providing further details or an explanation. Such a recording might have provided rich insight into what occurred to prohibit the aircraft from properly climbing and at one point pitch down.
Emirates has thus far refused to comment on the incident.
A full report will be forthcoming in the months ahead.
> Read More: Report Suggests Emirates 777 Nearly Crashed Due To Pilot Error
Investigators in Dubai have confirmed that EK231 encountered an anomaly upon takeoff. Initial theories that the flight crew failed to set the plane’s altitude selector to 4,000 feet appear incorrect. But whatever the root cause, authorities have confirmed the 777 flew dangerously low and fast over Dubai. A full report will seek to piece together the remaining puzzle pieces and better understand why the incident occurred.
UPDATE: A reader points out an important comment in the Aviation Herald concerning the pilot error:
The Captain said that she set 4,000′ on the MCP as required, after she saw that it was set to 00000. The poblem is that the altitude setting step on the MCP happens after you activate the flight director. If you activate the FD with the aircraft altitude within 20′ of the altitude set on the MCP you get ALT on the vetlical mode instead of TOGA. Then, when you rotate you get directions to maintain the altitude that was set when the ALT mode was engaged (in this case- 00000). The captain (any captain) should verify that the mode is TOGA (it is also part of the procedure..) and the FCTM states clearly that you are not supposed to follow the flight director during rotation.
If correct, it seems like pilot error did play a roll.
Nothing mysterious about it. The CVR is designed to overwrite itself on a loop (length of loop used to be 30 mins and is now 2 hours). As this flight continued to its destination which was more than 2 hours away, the section dealing with takeoff conversations had been overwritten multiple times over by the time the CVR was pulled.
I read the report this morning as well. I’m perplexed. I don’t understand now where the pilots actually did anything wrong. I thought the entire basis of argument against them is that they did not change the altitude selector from zero. Now it shows they did? Further, reports are that EK fired the pilots. Why?
@Matthew– Great article and that was a very interesting read! Just wanted to let you know you made an error with Diera City Centre as it should be Deira City Centre. Hope you’re well!
OK, why is there not a software safety protocol to prevent this whole thing?
“Then, when you rotate you get directions to maintain the altitude that was set when the ALT mode was engaged (in this case- 00000).“
In what world would you have a valid entry for an aircraft to rotate but maintain 00000 ft in flight???
Cockpit Voice Recorders only record the last several hours of audio, so for a long international flight of course the first hour of the flight would already be written over by newer audio. The thinking is when there is a crash/incident, you only really care about the audio right before the crash and because of the limitations of audio storage
The title of this article is about the mysterious disappearance of a recording. Said recording is overwritten by design after 2 hours. Perhaps you should know what you’re talking about before basing an entire article around your misunderstanding of normal operation of a recorder?