Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN
Passengers traveling on an Emirates flight to Brisbane, Australia were stunned when they noticed a huge hole in the side of the aircraft while they were disembarking.
Those on board the Airbus A380 from Dubai to the Australian city became aware of the damage as they exited the plane following the roughly 14-hour flight on July 1.
Images of the aircraft shared on social media reveal the extent of the puncture, which was due to a ruptured tire caused by a “technical fault” during the journey, according to the airline.
One of the passengers on board has since taken to Twitter to describe the “terrifying” incident, which took place “during cruise.”
“Was absolutely terrifying at first and the cabin crew knew something serious may have happened – were immediately in contact with the cockpit,” wrote Andrew Morris, an English professor at the UK’s Loughborough University.
“Shortly after, they resumed as normal. Their calm demeanor was reassuring — they knew it was not catastrophic.”
While it’s unclear exactly how long the plane had been in the air for when the issue occurred, some reports suggest that it may have been around 45 minutes into the flight.
Commercial aviation website Aviation Herald reports that the crew advised air traffic controllers at Brisbane Airport of the situation ahead of time and requested that the plane be met by emergency services on landing.
Emirates later released a statement stressing that the rupture did not impact “the fuselage, frame or structure of the aircraft.”
“Our flight EK430 flying from Dubai to Brisbane on July 1 experienced a technical fault,” reads the statement.
“One of the aircraft’s 22 tires ruptured during cruise, causing damage to a small portion of the aerodynamic fairing, which is an outer panel or the skin of the aircraft.”
The airline went on to confirm that the aircraft had landed safely in Australia, and passengers had disembarked as scheduled. Damage to the exterior of the wide-body airliner has since been repaired.
“The fairing has been completely replaced, checked and cleared by engineers, Airbus and all relevant authorities,” adds Emirates.
“The safety of our passengers and crew has always been our top priority.”
The incident came just days after the much-loved A380 superjumbo, in decline prior to the pandemic, was given something of a reprieve, when German airline Lufthansa announced plans to redeploy the plane from summer 2023.
The Airbus A380 has been on its way out since Airbus announced in 2019 that it was ceasing production of the airliner.
CNN has contacted Emirates for further comment.
Top image credit: Avherald.com
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