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Air India plane tragedy at Kozhikode: How did flight crash while landing on table-top runway

The Air India Express plane coming from Dubai skidded off the tabletop runway at the Karipur airport, said NDRF chief (AP Photo/Shijith Sreedhar)Premium
The Air India Express plane coming from Dubai skidded off the tabletop runway at the Karipur airport, said NDRF chief (AP Photo/Shijith Sreedhar)

  • The Air India flight veered off the runway and plunged into a valley while landing in heavy rains, the official said
  • At least 18 people died and many were severely injured in Kerala on Friday after Dubai-Kozhikode Air India flight overshot the runway

At least 18 people died and many were severely injured in Kerala on Friday after Dubai-Kozhikode Air India flight overshot the runway at the Karipur airport. The plane veered off the runway and plunged into a valley while landing in heavy rains, the official said. "The Air India Express flight number AXB-1344 on its way from Dubai to Kozhikode with 191 persons on board, overshot the runway in rainy conditions & went down 35 ft. into a slope before breaking up into two pieces," the civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday.

"The aircraft could not land on the runway where it had to, then landing was tried on another runway where the mishap happened," the civil aviation minister added.

The Air India Express plane coming from Dubai skidded off the table-top runway at the Karipur airport and fell into a dug up sort of place, said SN Pradhan, director general, National Disaster Response Force.

"The Air India Express flight which was coming from Dubai and was landing in the Calicut airport at around 7.40 pm to 7.45 pm, seems to have skidded off the runway and we must remember that it is a tabletop runway. So it seems to have crossed that runway and fallen into a dug up sort of place," Pradhan told.

The "table-top" runways are often constructed by excavating the peaks of hills to create what is known as a table-top. Such runways have steep drops at one or both ends. They are most commonly found in mountainous areas where flat land is scarce, or in low-lying areas like Kozhikode where space is at a premium or there is fear of water-logging at ground level. Steep drops increase the possibility of injuries and fatalities if pilots under or overshoot their approach, either through human error or mechanical failure. The table-top runway at Kozhikode is around 2,700 metres (8,858 feet) long.

In May 2010, an Air India flight landing at Mangalore airport overshot the table-top runway there, falling down a hillside and bursting into flames. Out of 166 passengers on board, only eight survived.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the visibility at the airport was around 2000 meters at the time of the incident and the airport was witnessing heavy rains. The plane fell into a 30 feet deep gorge in the valley, the regulator added.

Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) started its inquiry, Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman Arvind Singh said. The Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) were been recovered at the crash site. "This report will tell us about all the issues... we are awaiting the inquiry report and then we will take corrective action," he added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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