By Taylor Rains
Gulf Air Flight GF215 Experiences Incident at Kuwait International Airport
On Monday, Gulf Air flight GF215 experienced a minor incident while landing at Kuwait International Airport. All 62 passengers and seven crew members were evacuated safely from the aircraft and escorted to the airport, and, reportedly, no one suffered any harm or bodily injury. The reason for the evacuation and details of the incident are still unknown.
Gulf Air flight 215 was operating a routine service from Bahrain to Kuwait on July 5, taking off 29 minutes late at 16:34 and flying 50 minutes to its destination. However, it experienced an incident during landing that forced an emergency evacuation of the jet. The aircraft landed 27 minutes late on runway 33L at 17:22 and exited onto taxiway W5. Then it turned onto taxiway W1, where the evacuation occurred. No fatalities or injuries of the 69 souls on board are reported.
The Airbus A321 aircraft, registered A9C-CB, was delivered brand new to Gulf Air in 2012 and was 9.3 years old at the time of the event. According to FlightRadar24, the aircraft has only flown nine times since April 5, mostly on flights shorter than an hour. Two flights between Jeddah and Bahrain on June 6 were canceled, though the reason for these cancellations is unknown. In the second half of 2020, the aircraft regularly flew in July, August and October, but it was taken out of service againin September. The plane mostly flies short-haul flights, meaning it has likely racked up a high number of cycles since its 2012 induction, though it is uncertain if this contributed to Monday’s event.
In a Twitter post, Gulf Air stated, “ALERT: Flight GF215 from Bahrain to Kuwait has been involved in a minor incident during landing and has safely evacuated all 62 passengers and 7 crew members and escorted them into the terminal. We are currently working with the authorities to identify the cause of the incident.” A video of the evacuation showing passengers walking away from the jet was posted to Instagram by @arabaviaion and can be viewed here.
According to one report from FlightGlobal, passengers from the flight caused operational issues by straying too far from the aircraft near an active runway. The error reportedly caused a handful of disruptions, including a go-around and a reroute.
Based on data from FlightAware, it appears an Emirates 777-300ER changed course during approach into 33L and circled twice over Failaka Island off the coast of Kuwait before landing at 17:42. Meanwhile, a Kuwait Airways aircraft was forced to do a go-around after descending to 1,000 feet. It circled back and landed at 17:47, 25 minutes after the Gulf Air incident occurred. It appears later flights landed without issue.
Gulf Air has a seven-star safety rating according to AirlineRatings. To achieve this, the airline must not have had a fatal crash in the past decade, pass both the IOSA and the ICAO audits, not be banned from flying in the EU or American airspace and comply with at least four of the six COVID-19 international standards. The airline can still receive seven stars if it has not done the IOSA audit as long as it has not had a fatal accident in the past 20 years. However, Gulf Air has passed the audit and will remain on the IOSA Registry until Aug. 3, 2021.
While the airline has an excellent safety record now, it has experienced two fatal accidents in the past. In 1983, Gulf Air flight 771 crashed after a bomb exploded in the cargo hold. The attack killed all 105 passengers and seven crew, though this accident was not the airline’s fault.
The most recent accident occurred in 2000 after the aircraft’s pilots suffered from situational disorientation during a go-around. While trying to correct an unstable approach, Gulf Air flight 072 initiated a go-around and carried out a turning climb. During the climb, the nose pitched down 15 degrees, and the crew failed to respond to the Ground Proximity Warning Aystem’s alarm. As a result, the aircraft crashed approximately one minute after its first landing attempt. At the time, it was the deadliest crash involving an Airbus A320, taking 143 lives.
Since 2000, the airline has not had a fatal crash, though incidents have occurred, including a runway excursion in 2011 resulting in seven injuries. However, the airline has passed all major audits and remained safe in the decade leading up to Monday’s incident. In 2019, the carrier ranked 71st in SkyTrax’s World’s Top Airlines 100 list, up from number 89th in 2018.