PERTH, AUSTRALIA // An Emirates airline jet flying from Australia turned around and landed safely today after a burning smell was detected on board. The smell prompted a frantic search by air crew and fear among more than 100 passengers, the airline and witnesses said. The cause of the problem on the Airbus A340-500 was not immediately known. Emirates flight EK425 carrying 120 passengers from the Western Australia city of Perth to Dubai returned to Perth and touched down without incident about two hours after take-off.
Aircraft engineers were investigating the cause of the burning smell. "The decision to return to Perth was a precautionary measure one and a half hours into the flight and all passengers disembarked normally after the plane landed," Emirates said in a statement. "Emergency services were activated as per standard procedure but were not required. Safety was not compromised at any point," it said. Passengers said the pilot announced that a smell of smoke had been reported and he was returning to Perth as a precaution. They reported the smell getting stronger after the plane landed.
"When we landed that's when you could really smell it," Tracey Corp, a passenger, said. Passengers described seeing air crew rushing through the cabin looking for a possible fire. Sunny Chopra, a passenger from Perth, said he did not smell anything unusual but became worried despite assurances offered by a stewardess. "She said there was nothing to worry about but the way they were running in the plane ... it raised [alarm] bells," he said.
The airline said all passengers were being rescheduled on a later Emirates flight. The Westralia Airports Corp spokesman Malcolm Bradshaw said fire and ambulance crews were mobilised after the airport's emergency systems were triggered, but he was not aware of the nature of the problem on board. Emirates operates two direct flights a week between Dubai and Perth. Yesterday, an Etihad Airlines passenger jet made an unscheduled landing at a Pakistani airport after a note warning of a bomb on board was found in the toilet, an aviation official said. *AP