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Air India Express Flight 1344

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Air India Express Flight 1344
Boeing 737-8HJ, Air India Express AN1157698.jpg
VT-AXH, the aircraft involved in the accident, in 2006.
Accident
Date7 August 2020 (2020-08-07)
SummaryRunway overrun in poor weather conditions, under investigation
SiteRunway 10 at Calicut International Airport, Malappuram district, Kerala, India
11°07′59″N 75°58′14″E / 11.13306°N 75.97056°E / 11.13306; 75.97056Coordinates: 11°07′59″N 75°58′14″E / 11.13306°N 75.97056°E / 11.13306; 75.97056
Aircraft
Aircraft typeBoeing 737-8HG(SFP)
Aircraft nameIndia Gate
OperatorAir India Express
IATA flight No.IX1344
ICAO flight No.AXB1344
Call signExpress India 1344
RegistrationVT-AXH
Flight originDubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates
DestinationCalicut International Airport, Malappuram district, Kerala, India
Occupants190[1]
Passengers184
Crew6
Fatalities18[1]
Injuries100+[2]
Survivors172

Template:OSM Location map

On 7 August 2020, Air India Express Flight 1344, a COVID-19 repatriation flight part of Vande Bharat Mission from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Kozhikode, India, skidded off the runway at Calicut International Airport following multiple aborted landing attempts due to heavy tailwinds. The aircraft proceeded to fall into a 9–10.5 m (30–35 ft) gorge killing 16 passengers, and both pilots. The remaining four cabin crew and 168 passengers survived, of whom over 100 were injured.

Background[edit source | edit]

Airport[edit source | edit]

The Calicut International Airport, located in Karipur, Kozhikode, is one of the riskiest and most unsafe airports in India as per Directorate General of Civil Aviation's 2011 data.[3] Captain Mohan Ranganathan, a member of a safety advisory committee of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in 2011, had called it 'unsafe' and had recommended that it not be used for landing during wet conditions. He had noted that it had a tabletop runway with a down-slope, and inadequate buffer zone or runway end safety areas (RESA) at each end of the runway. Instead of a 240 m (787.5 ft) buffer zone, it had only 90 m (295.5 ft). Engineered material arrestor system (also known as arrestor bed or EMAS) is also absent in the airport, which could have averted the accident.[4] Several warnings were ignored by the authorities.[5][6][7]

In July 2019, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued a show-cause notice to the director of the Karipur Airport after various safety lapses like cracks in the runway, water stagnation and excessive rubber deposits were found. Cracks were reported at runway 28 TDZ (touchdown zone) and along with runway C/L (centre/left) marking near runway 10 TDZ.[lower-alpha 1] Multiple cracks were also found on airport stands and apron surface. Excessive rubber deposits were found along runway C/L marking of runway 10 TDZ. 1.5 m (5 ft) length of water stagnation was observed between the runway edge and intermediate turn pad on runway 28. The inspection was prompted when another Air India Express had a “tail strike” while landing at the airport from Dammam, Saudi Arabia.[10]

Due to inadequate RESA and other safety issues, many international airlines had stopped landing wide-body aircraft at Calicut.[11]

Aircraft and crew[edit source | edit]

The accident involved a Boeing 737-800 with a short-field performance package, registered as VT-AXH, manufacturer's serial number 36323 and line number 2108.[12] The aircraft first flew on 15 November 2006, and had an 'India Gate' livery on its tail.[13] At the time of the accident, the aircraft was more than thirteen years old.[12]

The crew consisted of the captain, Deepak Sathe, who had been a pilot with the Indian Air Force before joining Air India; co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar; and four flight attendants.[14][15][16] Sathe had landed successfully at Calicut airport at least 27 times, including more than ten times in 2020.[11]

Flight[edit source | edit]

The aircraft departed stand E6 and took off from runway 30R at Dubai International Airport on 7 August 2020, at 14:14 GST (7 August 2020, 10:14 UTC) and was scheduled to arrive at Calicut International Airport in Kozhikode, Kerala, at 19:40 IST (7 August 2020, 14:10 UTC), covering a distance of 2,673 kilometres (1,661 mi).[17] It was a repatriation flight, for people who had been stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic, under the Vande Bharat Mission.[18]

Crash[edit source | edit]

The aircraft managed to make it to the airport on time. The approach was for runway 28, but it aborted two landings due to tailwind and circled above the runway whilst waiting for clearance before making a landing on runway 10.[lower-alpha 2][21][22] Due to the monsoon and floods in Kerala at the time, inclement weather conditions reduced visibility at the time of landing to 2,000 m (6,600 ft). Runway 28 was in use and in the first landing attempt, the pilot could not sight the runway and requested for runway 10. On the second attempt on 2,860 m (9,380 ft) runway 10, the aircraft touched down near taxiway ''C'', which is approximately 1,000 m (3,300 ft) beyond runway threshold.[23][24]

The aircraft failed to stop before the end of the tabletop runway and plunged 9–10.5 m (30–35 ft) into a gorge, splitting the fuselage into two sections upon impact.[21][25] No post-crash fire was reported.[26] Tailwind, rubber deposits and wet runway affecting the braking performance of the aircraft are thought to be the reasons behind the accident.[4] This incident was similar to the Air India Express Flight 812 runway overshooting that happened on 22 May 2010 at Mangalore International Airport, killing 158 people on board.[27]

Victims[edit source | edit]

A total of 184 passengers,[28][29][30] four cabin crew and two cockpit crew were on board.[31][32] Eighteen people died in the crash (16 passengers and both pilots) and more than 100 people were injured.[2][33]

List of fatalities[1][34]
Type of victims Total on board Survivors Fatalities
Passengers 184 168 16
Pilots 2 0 2
Cabin crew 4 4 0
Total 190 172 18

Aftermath[edit source | edit]

Rescue[edit source | edit]

Following the incident, locals from the surrounding Karipur village immediately rushed to the crash site to rescue trapped victims from the aircraft,[35] followed by 40 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel who were guarding the perimeter of airport, Quick Reaction Team and Chief Airport Security Officer. Family members of the CISF personnel living nearby also joined.[36] Police and firefighters were also deployed for the initial rescue operations.[37] All passengers were evacuated in about three hours and taken to various hospitals in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.[2][29][32] Emergency response team, GO Team[lower-alpha 3] and special assistance team of Air India (also known as 'Angels of Air India')[1] from Kochi, Mumbai and Delhi were sent to the accident site.[39][40]

Investigation[edit source | edit]

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau and Flight Safety Departments have reached for investigating the accident.[29][41][42] The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) were recovered the next day and were sent to Delhi for analysis.[43]

Initial findings suggest that at the time of landing, tailwind was around 9 knots (17 km/h). The aircraft was 176 knots (326 km/h) at an altitude of approximately 450 feet (140 m) above the surface of the runway 10, which isn't considered ideal for short finals during bad weather conditions. Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Puri, in a press conference at Kozhikode on 8 August also said that there had been sufficient fuel on board for the aircraft to have flown to a diversion airport.[44]

Compensation[edit source | edit]

Government of India and Government of Kerala, each announced an interim relief of 10 lakh (US$14,000 or €13,000) compensation for the families of the deceased above the age of 12 years, 5 lakh (US$7,000 or €6,500) for below the age of 12 years, 2 lakh (US$2,800 or €2,600) for seriously injured and 50,000 (US$700 or €650) for those who sustained minor injuries.[45] It was also announced that the medical expenses of the injured would be borne by the state government.[46][47]

COVID-19 infection[edit source | edit]

Two passengers on the flight who survived tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving at a hospital after the accident. To check the spread among other passengers and rescue personnel, Central Industrial Security Force and Kerala Health Department asked their personnel and other passengers who were on the flight to undertake testing and quarantine.[48][46]

See also[edit source | edit]

Notes[edit source | edit]

  1. TDZ – Touch Down Zone v/s touch down point. By definition, the touchdown zone normally extends over the first 3,000 feet (910 m) of runway and the pilot aims to touch down at a point that is well within the limits of the zone, typically around the 1,000 feet (300 m) mark. The zone gives leeway to account for variations in physical conditions such as adverse winds, optical illusions due to day/night/rain/sloping terrain, equipment malfunctions, piloting technique etc. One of the demands of a critical airfield is to land accurately, as close as possible to the planned touch down point.[8][9]
  2. Runway numbers and letters are determined from the approach direction. The runway number is the whole number nearest to one-tenth of the magnetic azimuth of the centerline of the runway, measured clockwise from the magnetic north. For example: 84° is marked as 8; 85° is marked as 8 or 9; 86° is marked as 9. The opposite end of the runway is then marked with the reciprocal heading which is determined by adding or subtracting 180° from the runway heading. For example: opposite to runway 26 is runway 8 (260°-180° i.e, 80°) or opposite to runway 80 is runway 26 (80°+180° i.e, 260°).[19][20] Calicut International Airport have one runway as 28, i.e, runway 280° and the opposite runway is runway 10 (280°-180° i.e, 100°).
  3. To respond to an aviation incident, the airline would "activate GO team." The duty manager at the flight operations centre would deploy an extra 15 to 20 people to travel to the airport where the incident occurred, or, if the incident were airborne, to the airport receiving the plane.[38]

References[edit source | edit]

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  4. 4.0 4.1 Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  5. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
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  11. 11.0 11.1 Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  12. 12.0 12.1 Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  13. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  14. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
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  16. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
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  21. 21.0 21.1 Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
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External links[edit source | edit]

Template:Aviation accidents and incidents Template:Aviation accidents and incidents in India