An accident involving a small plane with 4 passengers occurred resulting in the death of the pilot and his assistant. Image Credit: DMO

Dubai: A UK-registered small DA42 plane crashed three miles to the south of Dubai International Airport, killing four people on board, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) announced Thursday evening.

The four-seater plane crashed while on a mission to calibrate terrestrial navigation systems at the airport, with all crew members, three British, and one South African, killed, said the GCAA in a statement

An investigation team from the GCAA arrived at the scene of the crash.

The GCAA said air traffic at the airport is back to normal, adding that it will continue the investigation and provide updates on the progress.

The light aircraft crashed near Mushrif Park on the approach to Dubai International Airport, Dubai Media Office said.

Dubai Media Office tweeted: “An accident involving a small plane with four passengers occurred resulting in the death of the pilot and his assistant. The relevant teams are on the scene.

“The small plane owned by Honeywell had four passengers on board, when it crashed due to a technical malfunction,” Dubai Media Office added.

Honeywell later clarified it did not own the plane.

The company said in a statement that "a Honeywell employee was among the four victims" and it was "deeply saddened by today's plane crash in Dubai," and sent its condolences to the victims' families.

"The plane was not owned or operated by Honeywell, but by a third party engaged by Honeywell. We are waiting for more details."

Dubai International Airport was closed from 7.36pm until 8.22pm after the incident with air traffic forced to circle, and some flights diverted to the nearby Maktoum International Airport.

At around 9pm Dubai Media Office tweeted: “All operations are running smoothly after a slight delay and diversion of some flights as a precautionary measure to ensure security following a minor incident involving a small plane.”

The incident affected operations in one of the two runways at the airport, which was the only one being used due to ongoing renovations to the second runway expected to last 45 days from April 16 to May 30.

A Dubai Airports spokesperson said: “Dubai Airports can confirm that operations at Dubai International were suspended from 19.36 to 20.22 UAE local time due to an incident involving a small aircraft in the vicinity of the airport.”

When Gulf News reached Terminal 1 arrivals there was confusion among awaiting friends and relatives who were not aware of the incident but had noticed the arrivals board backing up with delays and estimated arrivals.

Dubai air traffic Image Credit: Twitter

British expat Wendy Jones had been waiting for the arrival of her husband from Saudi Arabia since 7.30pm when Gulf News spoke to her at around 9pm.

“He was supposed to land at 7pm and I’ve been waiting quite a while now,” she said. “

Following her husband’s flight on a flight tracker on her mobile phone she said: “He was waiting to land and then he turned around and now he’s gone back and is circling over Manama.

“I can just see there’s a backlog because I’m following it on my phone, and I can tell that there is going to be quite a wait because I can see all the flights backing up waiting to land.”

An Australian expat who preferred to remain anonymous said: “I’ve only just arrived but I can see from the delays and estimated arrivals on the board that there is going to be quite a wait. No one had told us why until you said. We haven’t heard anything about possible diversions to Maktoum Airport.”

Honeywell is a US-based conglomerate that makes products and software solutions in areas that include aerospace, safety, transport, and oil and gas, among others. It has had a presence in the Middle East for over 60 years. Headquartered in Dubai, it is also present in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan where it helps build smart cities