DOHA: A Dubai-bound Qatar Airways flight had to return to Doha apparently after being caught in a storm cloud over the Emirate late yesterday afternoon.
So turbulent was the weather that the plane, an Airbus 320-100/200, had to make its way back just as it was on approach to the Dubai International Airport.
Back in Doha, a shocked passenger of the cancelled flight tweeted that the plane, while it was close to Dubai International Airport on its approach, suddenly slipped into a cluster of clouds and plunged.
The tweeter, Mohamed Al Suwaidi, said that the sudden plunge caused a number of women and children on board to scream and throw up.
“So sharp was the plunge that we thought for a moment that the plane would hit the ground, but luckily, the pilot lifted it back.”
Al Suwaidi said: “We could hear screams of women and children in the plane and many men could be heard loudly recite verses of the Holy Quran,” said Al Suwaidi on his Twitter account. “There was fear and panic.”
The flight remained bumpy for almost five minutes, according to the tweet. “I was sitting at the window. The pilot suddenly announced that he was going to take a round of the airport in Dubai before landing due to bad weather.”
While landing the plane slipped into a thick cluster of clouds and the descent became much faster, said the tweeter. “We felt that the pilot had lost control”
“There was fear and panic
(in the plane). We were expecting the aircraft to hit (apparently with a thud) the runway.”
But the pilot steered the plane up and saved it from hitting the ground.
“Everything became normal a little later, and we were informed that we were headed back to Doha,” said Al Suwaidi.
Contacted for comment, Qatar Airways said it was releasing a media statement.
The release said flight QR112 from Doha “experienced severe turbulence” on approach to the Dubai International Airport.
“To ensure passenger comfort and safety, a decision was made to return the flight to Doha and wait for improvement in the weather,” said the airline.
The flight was subsequently cancelled and all the passengers were accommodated on the “next service reaching Dubai,” the airline said.
When told about the tweet of a passenger of the Doha-Dubai flight, an official of the airline said she could say nothing further than what was written in the media statement.
According to the airline’s website, the flight took off from Doha International Airport on schedule at 14.55 hours (2.55pm yesterday), and was slated to land at Dubai International Airport at 17.05 hours local time (Qatar Time 4.35pm).
The website said Airbus A 320-100 (200), a short-to-medium range narrow body plane, has a passenger capacity of up to 180.
Its flight range is 4,800km and it flies at a top speed of 828km per hour.
A weather forecaster, not wanting his name in print, said he had no idea about what happened to the Qatar Airways Dubai flight, but added that ‘cumulonimbus clouds’ had begun forming over the UAE at 4pm yesterday.
Talking to this newspaper at 10pm Doha time, he said the cloud formation was still there. This is an air pocket. It is a cluster of storm clouds.
“This might have actually caused downdraft (downward wind), which increases the speed of wind,” said the forecaster.
When asked if the Qatar Airways’ plane might have been caught in those clouds, he said: “I can’t comment on this”.