It is not an accident but a murder :Aviation Safety Advisor Ranganathan
NEW DELHI/ CALICUT : Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) chief Arun Kumar today stated it is incorrect to say that friction testing at the Karipur airport in Kozhikode was not done, a day after an Air India Express flight skidded off the run and split into half. 24 people have died till Saturday morning .
The government has sent two special relief flights from Delhi and from Mumbai for rendering humanitarian assistance to all the passengers and the family members.India’s top aviation body, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has ordered a detailed inquiry into the matter.
“The Calicut Airport is the 11th busiest airport in the pilot. It is incorrect that friction testing was not done said Kumar.There was poor judgement of pilots while landing, the runway was long enough for safe landing.”
Union minister V Muraleedharan who visited Kozhikode on Saturday after an Air India plane crashed in Kozhikode said the death toll in the accident could have been higher had the pilot not switched off the engine in time. Doing so, he said, prevented the fuel tank of the aircraft from going up in flames.
Meanwhile, Top aviation experts landed in the state to begin an investigation into the accident. As many as 149 people have been hospitalised after the accident, with officials involved in the rescue operations saying that 23 of them are in a critical condition.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri said the accident appears to have been caused by a slippery runway as the pilot attempted to land on the table top runway amid heavy rains.
“Under the Vande Bharat Mission, the Boeing-737 flight from Dubai to Calicut International Airport was carrying 190 passengers and crew, the civil aviation ministry said in a statement. Among them were 10 infants.The aircraft lay split into at least two chunks after the plane’s fuselage sheared apart as it fell into a valley 35 feet below, authorities said.
“Because of the weather conditions, he could not land the first time, so he did a turnaround and tried to approach it from a different direction,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told national broadcaster DD News, adding that only an investigation would reveal the cause of the crash.
If appropriate steps are not taken, accident similar to Friday’s airplane crash in Kozhikode could occur next at Patna, Jammu airports, air safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan said in a conversation with Hindustan Times.
During the interview, Ranganathan, who is a member of a safety advisory committee constituted by the civil aviation ministry, said he had submitted a report around nine years ago, warning that the Calicut (now Kozhikode) airport was not safe for landings.
“The warnings were ignored… in my opinion, it is not an accident but a murder. Their own audits have had flagged safety issues” Ranganathan said, adding that the crash could have been well avoided.
Fligh tradar 24 data also shows a distinct difference in the approach speeds on the first and second attempt to land. ”During their first approach, they were flying at a ground speed of 149 knots (276 kmph) at an altitude of 2500 feet.
Compare that with the second approach, where at a similar altitude, they were making an approach with a ground speed of 191 knots (354 kmph).” The difference in air speed between the first and the second approach ”could be attributed to the presence of a tail-wind,” said Captain Singh.
At the time of the first approach to land, visibility was 2 kilometres and there was heavy rain. Reports suggest that the pilots asked Air Traffic Control for permission to land from the opposite end of the runway and proceeded to man oeuvre the aircraft to land despite the presence of the strong tail-wind, reported to be approximately 9 knots or more than 16 kilometres per hour.
”Tail-winds add to your ground-speed once you touch down,” says a senior pilot who has operated dozens of flights into Kozhikode Airport.
”In conditions like this, you add a safety margin of at least 15 per cent to the given length of the runway if the runway surface is wet.” Pilots need to assess wind conditions, the runway surface condition, the landing distance required, the all-up weight of the aircraft, the density of the air and the presence of wind-shear or unexpected and difficult to detect wind conditions, potentially at low altitudes.
In this case, the pilots on the aircraft appeared to have committed to stopping the aircraft within the remaining length of the 2.8 km long runway despite touching down 1 km down after its threshold.
(With Agency Inputs ).