Is Emirates Safe? (Yes, It Is.)

Emirates has a relatively good, but not perfect safety record.

During its 37 years of operation, it has suffered one crash-landing; and while all 300 people on board survived, a fire-fighter died trying to put out the aircraft fire that erupted following the crash. This accident happened in 2016 and was Emirates’ one and only crash-landing resulting in a total loss of the aircraft.

Since this accident, Emirates has not had any accidents which have resulted in injuries to passengers or crew. In either case, Emirates is fully safety-compliant with local and international standards and is generally considered to be a safe airline to fly with.

Below, I explain why that is the case. Hopefully, the information contained in this article will help you reach the same conclusion!

Is Emirates Safe?

Emirates Operates a Modern Fleet

Emirates has a large widebody fleet of A380s and B777s.

According to the average weighted age of the Emirates fleet is 8.4 years. By weighted I mean that has looked at the average age and the number of the two aircraft types and has calculated the total average fleet age based on this data.

The average Emirates aircraft ages by aircraft type are shown in the table below. Emirates’ A380s were delivered between 2008 and 2021, whereas its passenger B777s were delivered between 2006 and 2018.   

Aircraft Number of Aircraft Average Age
A380 121 7.4
B777 144 9.3
Total 266 8.4

With an average fleet age of 8.4 years, Emirates is operating a young fleet, very slightly older than its rival Qatar Airways which has an average fleet age of 7.5 years.

Emirates’ average fleet age compares very well to other major full-service carriers too. For example, Lufthansa’s average fleet age is 10.5 years, United Airlines’ is 16.5 years, British Airways’ is 12.9 years and Air France’s is 14.3 years.

Emirates A380

Emirates Is IOSA-Certified

Emirates has the highest possible, seven-star safety rating on; a seven-star rating is a good indicator that an airline is safe to fly with and means that:

  • Emirates is IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) certified. This audit is optional and assesses whether an airline has the necessary systems and processes in place to operate safely. Airlines are evaluated every two years.
  • Emirates is not blacklisted in the European Union or the United States.
  • Emirates is based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the UAE performs very favorably in ICAO Country Audits which assess a nation’s approach to airline safety oversight and regulation. Emirates is safety regulated by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), and the GCAA’s IATA Safety Audit results are extremely good with effective implementation in the range of 100%, or almost 100%, for the eight areas audited.
  • The only fatal air crash involving an Emirates aircraft occurred in 2016. No passengers or crew lost their lives. However, one firefighter subsequently died as a result of injuries sustained during the rescue and fire-fighting operation following the crash.

In a ranking by the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Center (JACDEC), Emirates was named the world’s safest airline in the world. The carrier ranked first among 25 global airlines, with a risk index of 95.05%. This risk index was calculated by looking at around 30 different airline safety parameters.

Emirates Incidents and Accidents

Similar to many large airlines that have had a long operational history and that operate a large fleet, Emirates’ safety record is not spotlessly clean.

My research for incidents/accidents involving Emirates aircraft shows a number of results, as shown in the table below. In all cases, there were no injuries, apart from the August 2016 air crash mentioned earlier.

Date Aircraft Location Commentary
April 2004 A340 Johannesburg The aircraft overran the runway during take-off and sustained serious damage as it struck runway approach lights. The strike caused four tires to burst, throwing debris at the aircraft and damaging a wing flap drive mechanism. The aircraft returned to Johannesburg Airport and performed an emergency landing during which the aircraft’s braking system failed as a result of the tire damage. The pilots used reverse engine thrust to bring the aircraft to a stop 250m from the end of the runway. There were no injuries.
March 2009 A340 Melbourne International Airport The aircraft failed to take off properly resulting in a tail strike and the aircraft also collided with the runway lighting and instrument landing systems before eventually climbing and returning to the airport for a safe landing. There were no injuries.
March 2016 777 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport The aircraft missed the approach at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport due to strong winds. The flight crew decided to divert to Vancouver International Airport.  While landing the flight crew declared a fuel emergency reporting that they had only 30 minutes of fuel remaining. The aircraft landed without further incident. There were no injuries.
August 2016 777 Dubai International Airport The aircraft crash-landed and caught fire. All 282 passengers and 18 crew on board survived, some with minor injuries However, an airport firefighter died tackling the blaze. The aircraft was destroyed by the fire. This was Emirates’ only crash-landing and total hull loss. Following this serious accident, the GCAA issued 40 safety recommendations. 
August 2019 A380 Dubai International Airport The aircraft was damaged inside a hangar during routine maintenance. The aircraft’s nose gear slipped off a hydraulic jack and collapsed, causing extensive damage to the fuselage The aircraft was repaired and returned to service. There were no injuries.
April 2020 777 Dubai International Airport The aircraft collided with a British Airways A350 while taxiing. Both aircraft suffered minor damage. There were no injuries.
December 2021 777 Dubai International Airport The aircraft overran the runway during take-off, passing only 23m over houses located near the airport. The aircraft was not damaged and there were no injuries.
January 2022 777 Dubai International Airport The B777 was enroute from Dubai towards Hyderabad and started its take-off without clearance. The aircraft was ordered to stop by air traffic control to avoid colliding with another Emirates aircraft that was crossing the runway. There were no injuries.
July 2022 A380 Brisbane International Airport The A380 landed at Brisbane Airport with a large hole in its fuselage. A blown tire during take-off was the potential cause of the damage. There were no injuries. 

Emirates 777-300ER

Summary: Is Flying with Emirates Safe?

Emirates aircraft have been involved in some incidents over its 37-year history, the most serious of which was the August 2016 crash landing at Dubai International Airport. All other incidents involving Emirates aircraft have not resulted in injuries to those on board.

Emirates is fully IATA IOSA certified and safety oversight of the airline is performed by the UAE GCAA which scores exceptionally well in ICAO’s Country Audits.

Based on these observations and this research, my conclusion is that Emirates is a safe airline to fly with. Based on its recent rankings in airline safety league tables, and JACDEC also believe this to be the case.

If you are wondering what flying with Emirates is like, check our reviews:

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