DGCA bans use of wide-body aircraft at Kozhikode airport for monsoon season
The aviation regulator has banned the use of wide-body body aircraft during the monsoon at Kerala’s Calicut airport, days after an Air India Express flight with 190 people crashed in heavy rain and broke into two after overshooting the table-top runway, killing both pilots and 16 passengers.
As a matter of abundant caution we have decided to divert them to neighbouring airports during the monsoon season,” said Arun Kumar, the director general of civil aviation.
The aviation regulator is also planning to conduct safety audits across airports in regions that receive high rainfall, he added.
Wide-body aircraft like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A350 have a bigger fuel tank and can therefore travel longer distances in comparison with narrow-body planes like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
The Boeing 737 jet on a flight from Dubai, overshot and fell 50 metres off the end of the runway at the Calicut airport in treacherous conditions last Friday, killing 18, making it one of the deadliest commercial aviation disasters in the country in nearly 10 years.
The crash occurred around 7.40pm and bore striking similarity to the 2010 Mangalore airport crash when a plane, also an Air India Express Boeing 737, overshot a table-top runway and crashed nose-first.
So-called table-top airports have limited space at the ends of the runway, and several international airlines have stopped flying bigger aircraft into Kozhikode because of safety issues. Wide-body aircraft were permitted at this airport from 2019.
Concerns were raised following the 2010 Air India Express crash in Mangalore that killed 158 people on board. That year, a court of enquiry report by former Indian Air Force chief Air Marshal BN Gokhale noted that table-top runways require extra skills and caution to navigate. The hazard of “undershooting” and “overshooting”, in particular, can lead to grave situations, the report said.
Calicut airport is equipped with Runway End Safety Area (RESA) in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s guidelines on safety, aviation minister Hardeep Puri said on Monday.
“ Engineered Material Arrestor System (EMAS) provides safety benefit if less than standard RESA length is available or at airports where RESA cannot be provided due to constraints. Provision of EMAS is not mandatory in a civil aerodrome as per ICAO guidelines,” Puri said.