NEW DELHI (AGENCIES) – The ill-fated Air India Express flight from Dubai to Kozhikode in the south Indian state of Kerala tried to land amid heavy rains and low visibility and skidded off the table top runway causing a major accident on Friday evening.
After this abortive attempt, the plane gained an altitude again to circle and come back after reaching an altitude of 7,200 feet. The plane skidded off the runway in heavy rain in its second attempt at landing. The last reading for the plane was at an altitude of 925 feet and a speed of 174 knots.
The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder of the crashed plane have been sent to Delhi for decoding and analysis. A senior official associated with the probe said it was too early to say whether the accident was the result of a technical fault or human error. Experts are examining the last-minute change in choice of runway and subsequent wind direction, and unconfirmed reports of trouble with the landing gear of the aircraft.
Flight No. IX1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode was to cover a distance of 2,673 km in 3 hours and 37 minutes, but it took the flight 3 hours and 56 minutes.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said, “Because of the weather conditions, he (the pilot) could not land the first time, so he did a turnaround and tried to approach it from a different direction.”
He added that the crash appears to have been caused by a slippery runway.
A combination of infrastructure inadequacies and human errors could have contributed to the plane crash at Kozhikode on Friday evening, said E K Bharat Bhushan, former director-general of civil aviation (DGCA). Hitting out at the successive state governments for not completing land acquisition for extending the airport’s runway, he said: “The Kerala government should be clearly told that this airport cannot function unless adequate land is provided.”
A deadly combination of a slippery runway, strong tailwind, bad weather conditions, and landing ahead of the threshold spot could have resulted in the skidding of the ill-fated Air India Express in Kozhikode that has reportedly claimed 19 lives.