Investigations launched into the Air India Express crash in Kozhikode last Friday will take some time to reveal what went wrong with the flight. Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has clarified that there was no problem with the Karipur airport runway. The Air India Express flight coming from Dubai had overshot the tabletop runway and toppled into a valley 35 feet below killing 18 people including both the pilots. The crash put the spotlight on the runway which was described as dangerous for landing in adverse weather.
DGCA director Arun Kumar, however, said that the runway was long enough for landings by big passengers jets. He said the only information available till now is that the plane landed way beyond the actual touchdown point.
“All we know at this point of time is that the touchdown was late. That is the ATC information, more than 3,000 feet.It was a 9,000 feet runway, which is a fairly long runway as I have been saying all along. It’s not a small runway, for example like Patna which is just 6,000 feet,” Kumar told Hindustan Times.
Commenting on reports that experts had pointed out issues with the runway and other infrastructure in 2010, the civil aviation watchdog chief said that all the recommendations were complied with which also included extending the length of the runway from 6,000 feet to 9,000 feet.
Questions have also been raised as to why the aircraft was allowed to land in Kozhikode which had been witnessing storm-like conditions. However, Arun Kumar said that the pilots of the Boieng 737 which was operating as repatriation flight under the Vande Bharat scheme were aware of the weather conditions.
“The ATC had briefed the pilots about the weather condition… the call has to be taken by the commander to go around or to land,” Kumar told NDTV.
The black box and flight data recorder has been recovered and a team from Boeing will soon be visiting India to help in the crash investigations.