Yet another air crash on Table top runway…. similar aircraft type of the same airline… similar pattern-aircraft overshot the touchdown point beyond the breakable point of the runway… the final result… Air India Express’s two valuable pilots along with 16 other passengers lost their precious lives.
- Dubai-Kozhikode Air India Express skids through the 35 feet ditch at the end of Runway at Kozhikode on 7th August 2020.
- Second Air crash of Air India express on table top runway,after 2010 crash of the aircraft in Mangalore.
- only difference is the latest crash did not result in Fire , as the shrewd pilots cut off the fuel supply to the engines thus saving hundred odd lives.
- Air India and its affiliate AI Express are known for safe, soft landing practices@150 KMPH speed.
- Though blamed for having a table top runway that may not be suitable for Air operations during rainy season for wide body aircraft, Kozhikode is the seventh largest airport in the country handling more than 3 million passengers per annum, with daily 70-80 flight movements during pre-covid season
The crash raised more questions that need answers from the regulator DGCA , Airport operator AAI and all the concerned airlines. Though the inclement weather was the major factor behind this tragic crash, the stakeholders of the industry did not seem to have learned any lessons from the Mangalore crash of 2010, in avoiding crashes on Table top runways. Post Mangalore crash of 2010, Indian aviation regulator DGCA had constituted special committee to look into the issues related to the landing and take off in the airports having table top runways like Mangalore ,kozhikode and Imphal. despite many remedial measures suggested by the committee, thousands of flight had landed and took off from Kozhikode ever since without any major mishap. This particular event is being blamed on the bad weather induced pilot error in finding the right spot of the touchdown during landing, resulting in tragic death of 18 people and a dent for the hard earned reputation of Air India express as the safe operator.
DGCA had since then had banned the operation of wide bodied aircraft into Kozhikode airport, it is high time the regulator works out the Standard Operating Procedures for landing on table top runways like that of Kozhikode and Mangalore with clear options of alternate landing airports enshrined in the route schedule itself. Coimbatore and Kochi airport are the alternate landing airports for flights into Kozhikode and Mangalore.
Hope all stake holders focus on this issue and work out tangible SOPs for the smooth landings and take offs.