Friday night, an Air India Express Flight from Dubai skidded off the runway while landing at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport and plunged deep into the valley below amid heavy rainfall. There were a total of 191 passengers on board, including 6 crew members. At least 14 deaths have been reported so far while 15 passengers are severely injured.
It is too early to pinpoint the exact reason behind this horrific incident, however, according to some industry experts Kozhikode airport was marked as a high risk one. The airport was unsafe for flight operations due to inadequate safety area.
According to Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation safety expert “The downslope at the end of the runway 10, on which the accident took place, has a very steep downward slope. There is only a 90 meters safety area at the end of the runway, which should be at least 200 meters. Similarly, on both sides of the runway, there are only 75 meters of safety area when that should be at least 150 meters.”
Kozhikode airport is situated on a hill and Flying into these airports requires extra maneuvering from pilots. Moreover, harsh weather conditions like heavy rainfall and no visibility make the task even more challenging.
The risks in the airport are found to be similar to what happened in Mangalore airport incident. In 2010 a similar horrific incident happened, involving an Air India Express. At that time 158 people were found dead.
Just after the Mangalore incident, in 2011 industry regulator DGCA made a list of 11 airports “that posed a safety risk to flight operations in India.” Kozhikode airport of Kerala was one of the 11 airports.
Other 10 airports marked in the list as follows: –
- Port Blair
Last year in July another accident involving another Air India Express flight in Kozhikode escaped the force when flight’s tail touched the runway while landing. However, no damage or loss of lives was recorded.