Passengers have been delayed and flights have been diverted from Dubai International Airport after a fatal plane crash.

Four people, including three Brits and a South African, were killed in the crash that impacted operations at Dubai airport, a major aviation hub and the world's busiest airport for international travel.

Mystery surrounds what caused the crash of the light aircraft, a Diamond DA62 with a tail number belonging to Flight Calibrations Service Ltd. of Shoreham, England.

The United Arab Emirates' General Civil Aviation Authority said it crashed about five kilometres south of the airport after setting out "to calibrate land navigation devices at Dubai International Airport".


Flight Calibrations Service said in November it signed a contract at Dubai International Airport to do work on its "navaids" — beacons surrounding an airport that help pilots know where runways are and how to land, Associated Press reported.

A tweet from the Government of Dubai media office said the plane was owned by the multinational conglomerate Honeywell and crashed due to a technical malfunction.

It confirmed four people were on board the aircraft.

However, in a statement, Honeywell denied it owned the aircraft.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that a small, chartered plane crashed in Dubai yesterday evening and our heartfelt condolences are with the victims' families. A Honeywell employee was among the four victims. The plane was not owned or operated by Honeywell but by a third party engaged by Honeywell."

Dubai International Airport, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates, is the world's busiest airport for international travel and a popular hub for Australians travelling to Europe and the Middle East.

The airport said it halted flights from 7.36pm until 8.22pm local time due to the crash.

The crash caused delays at the airport, the emirate's government media office said, however operations are now believed to be back on track.


"All operations at the Dubai airport are running smoothly after a slight delay and diversion of some flights as a precautionary measure to ensure security," the General Civil Aviation Authority said.

Dubai is a major city in the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula.

The last major aircraft incident in Dubai happened in August 2016, when an Emirates Boeing 777-300 crash landed after flying in from Thiruvananthapuram, India.

No lives were lost among the 300 passengers and crew on flight EK521, but a firefighter was killed in a subsequent explosion of the plane.

An investigation into Thursday's incident is underway.