People stand by the debris of the Air India Express flight that skidded off a runway while landing in Kozhikode, Kerala, in August 2020. The special evacuation flight bringing people home to India who had been trapped abroad because of the coronavirus skidded off the runway and split in two while landing in heavy rain killing more than a dozen people and injuring dozens more. (AP)
People stand by the debris of the Air India Express flight that skidded off a runway while landing in Kozhikode, Kerala, in August 2020. The special evacuation flight bringing people home to India who had been trapped abroad because of the coronavirus skidded off the runway and split in two while landing in heavy rain killing more than a dozen people and injuring dozens more. (AP)

Final probe report on Kozhikode air crash due in January delayed by 2 months

In August 2020, an Air India Express Boeing-737 plane repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the pandemic overshot the runway in heavy rain and crashed
By Anisha Dutta
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 10:03 AM IST

The final probe report on the August 7 Air India Express crash at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport due for submission in January will be delayed by two months, officials aware of the development said. A civil aviation ministry order, reviewed by HT, has granted a two-month extension to the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), the regulatory body in charge of the investigation, to submit the report.

“Due to COVID pandemic, there is a delay being experienced in the Test Reports of components, and an extension of two months has been granted for submission of the draft final report of Investigation into VT-AXH Accident,” the order said.

The Air India Express Boeing-737 plane repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the pandemic overshot the runway in heavy rain, skidded off the table-top runway and broke into two parts after crashing nose-first into the ground. The flight was carrying 190 passengers and crew. It was the deadliest commercial aviation disaster in the country in 10 years and claimed 20 lives. Another Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot Mangalore’s table-top runway in 2010. It slid down a hill and left 158 people dead.

The AAIB in August last year appointed a team of five investigators to lead the probe and submit a report within five months.

AAIB director-general Aurobindo Handa appointed Captain SS Chahar, a former Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)-designated examiner for pilots of B737NG aircraft, as the investigator-in-charge tasked with completing its inquiry and submitting the report.

He is assisted by Operations Expert Ved Prakash, Senior Aircraft Maintenance Engineer-B737 Mukul Bhardwaj, Group Captain Y S Dahiya, Aviation Medicine Expert, and Jasbir Singh Larhga, Deputy Director AAIB.

“The Investigator-in-Charge may take the assistance of other experts/agencies whenever required. The headquarters of the investigation will be at New Delhi,” an order issued by AAIB in August said.

Also Read:India’s 1st Covid case, plane crash and gold smuggling charges: Kerala’s 2020 recap

The bureau’s role is to conduct an independent aircraft accident investigation, obtain a preliminary report to assist in setting up a committee of inquiry in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation rules.

DGCA, the aviation regulator, a day after the crash, had announced that the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were recovered from the crash site. They can help in determining the cause of the crash. The cockpit voice recorder keeps a recording of all the conversations taking place in a plane’s cockpit. The flight data recorder logs data such as airspeed, altitude, and fuel flow.

The aviation regulator in August had also banned the use of wide-body body aircraft during the monsoon at Kerala’s Calicut (Kozhikode) airport and decided to divert them to neighbouring airports during the season. DGCA said it also planned to conduct safety audits across airports in regions that receive high rainfall.

So-called tabletop airports have limited space at the ends of the runway and several international airlines have stopped flying bigger aircraft into Kozhikode due to safety issues. Wide-body aircraft operations were permitted at this airport from 2019.

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