Jet Tail Hits Australian Runway on Takeoff

Passengers terrified, but no one hurt in Emirates plane's Melbourne liftoff
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 21, 2009 7:42 AM CDT
An Airbus A380 of Emirates Airlines takes off for a demonstration flight during an air show in Dubai in this Monday, Nov. 21, 2005, file photo.    (AP Photo/Aziz Shah)
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(Newser) – The tail of an Emirates jetliner carrying more than 225 people slammed into the runway as it took off from Melbourne, Australia, last night, sending smoke into the cabin and forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. No one was hurt, but passengers described being terrified after learning something was wrong soon after the Airbus A340 bound for Dubai took off.

After the strike, which reportedly left debris strewn on the runway and knocked out some runway lights, the pilot flew over the sea, dumping fuel for 45 minutes before returning to the airport and landing without incident. "It was terrifying," one passenger said. "I'd hate to go through it again." A transportation safety official said such incidents, called "tail hits," are caused by a number of factors, including the angle of takeoff, weather conditions, and loading.