Govt orders probe into Air India crash, first team leaves for Kozhikode at 2 am
The civil aviation ministry’s accident investigation division Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) will conduct a detailed investigation into the Air India Express flight crash at Kozhikode airport in Kerala.
An Air India Express plane with 190 on board from Dubai overshot Karipur’s, also known as Kozhikode international airport, table top runway and dropped about 30 feet into a valley on Friday evening killing two pilots and at least 20 passengers.
“Deeply anguished and distressed at the air accident in Kozhikode. The Air India Express flight number AXB-1344 on its way from Dubai to Kozhikode with 191 people on board, overshot the runway in rainy conditions and went down 35 ft. into a slope before breaking up into two pieces,” Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri said in a statement issued late on Friday.
“We are in touch with local authorities. State police have reported 20 deaths. Relief teams from Air India and AAI are being immediately dispatched from Delhi & Mumbai. All efforts being made to help passengers. A formal enquiry will be conducted by AAIB,” he added.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) is a division of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India which investigates aircraft accidents. The bureau’s role is to conduct independent aircraft accident investigation and to obtain a preliminary report on the accident and assist in setting up of the committee of inquiry and formal investigation in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules.
Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said it was raining heavily when pilots of the Boeing 737 plane from Dubai tried to land. The regulator said after landing at Runway 10, the plane continued running till the end of the runway and fell into the valley and broke into two portions.
“The visibility was 2000 meters amid heavy rain, after landing at runway 10 and it overshot the runway and broke down in two pieces,” a DGCA official said.
According to Air India, there were 190 people on board the Air India Express flight AXB1344 including 174 passengers, 10 infants and four crew members. Air India Express is a subsidiary of state-run airline Air India. “Air India statement: Air India Express flight IX 1344 operated by B737 aircraft from Dubai to Calicut overshot runway at Kozhikode at 1941 hrs tonight. No fire reported at the time of landing. There are 174 passengers, 10 infants, 2 pilots and 4 cabin crew on board the aircraft,” the national transporter said in a statement.
The flight from Dubai was part of the Centre’s repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission. The Vande Bharat flights became operational from May 6 to repatriate citizens stranded since the lockdown reach their destinations via international repatriation flights. During the suspension of international flights due to the Covid-19 outbreak in India and other countries, more than 2,500 repatriation flights by foreign carriers to evacuate stranded nationals to and from India were approved by the government.
Several passengers part of the flight from Dubai to Kozhikode had cited loss of jobs as the reason to travel back home according to their repatriation flight list reviewed by HT. A large number of workers based in the Gulf have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the ministry of civil aviation, national carrier Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express have evacuated 2,67,436 stranded passengers and other flights have brought back 4,86,811 passengers between May 6 to July 30. The fifth phase of the mission began from August 1.