As many as 20 people, including two pilots, were killed and many injured after an Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot the runway of Kerala's Karipur airport, plunged down a slope and broke into two pieces late on Friday.
The Boeing aircraft, carrying 189 passengers and six crew, attempted to land amidst heavy tailwinds and rain on the table-top runway. It failed to hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions, and skidded for more than 75 m.
Here are the latest updates:
Capt Sathe’s kin concerned about table-top airports: Deshmukh
The family of Captain Deepak V Sathe, pilot of the ill-fated Air India Express flight which crashed, expressed concerns about `table-top airports’ in the country, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said here.
Captain Sathe and 17 others were killed when the plane crashed into a valley after overshooting the runway at Kozhikode airport in Kerala on Friday evening.
Deshmukh met his relatives here on Saturday to pay his condolences.
“The family expressed concerns about table-top airports in the country while speaking to me. They said the Civil Aviation Ministry should ensure that such incidents do not happen again,” he told reporters.
Table-top airport is the one located on the top of a plateau or hill.
A family member told PTI that Captain Sathe was a very experienced pilot, and he could not have made any mistake while landing.
The government should think about how to avoid such incidents at table-top airports, she said.
Two Indian expats thank God for missing flight at last moment
One may call it good luck, but for two Indian expats it was God who prevented them at the last minute from boarding the Air India Express plane that crashed in Kerala, killing at least 18 people on board.
Noufal Moin Vetten, an Ajman resident working as an office boy in a Sharjah school, was booked to travel on the flight and had checked in as per schedule.
Recounting his miraculous escape, Vetten, a resident of Malappuram, Thirunavaya, whose visa was cancelled a week ago, told Gulf News: "I was handed my boarding pass, but when I reached immigration, they told me I had to pay a fine of Dh 1,000 (Rs 20,430) for overstay. I had only Dh 500 (Rs10,215) with me.
“I called my school PRO and he told me to come back. He said they would follow protocols and pay the fines before sending me," he said.
Vetten was disappointed and called his family to let them know.
"When I heard about the crash, I was saddened for all the passengers. But I’m so relieved I missed it. God has been really merciful," said Vetten.
Afsal Parrakodan, a resident of Abu Dhabi, had a similar stroke of luck.
"My work visa was cancelled about a week ago. After getting my boarding pass, I was told I had to pay a fine of Dh1,000 at the immigration counter, but I had only Dh500 with me.
"I was very keen to board the flight and be with my family. So I called a friend who brought me the additional Dh500, but by then, my baggage had been offloaded and the flight’s doors were closed," said Parrakodan.
"I was feeling very sad and called my mother to tell her I had missed the flight. But a few hours later, when I learnt of the crash, I couldn’t help but feel relieved and thankful to God for saving my life," said an overwhelmed Parrakodan who plans to fly back next week.
Survivors of Kozhikode air crash yet to recover from shock
Several injured passengers of the ill-fated Air India Express flight from Dubai which overshot the runway and crashed at the airport here are yet to get over the horror moments that took them close to death.
It was a black Friday for all the 184 passengers who after a long wait managed to get tickets in the repatriation flight from Dubai as part of the Centre’s Vande Bharat Mission to evacuate Indians stranded abroad due to coronovirus pandemic.
“We did not realise what really happened other than the flight was shaking,” said Ramshad, who was injured as the aircraft dived into the valley and broke into two portions on Friday night after landing amid rains.
Though he was injured, Ramshad’s wife Sufaira and four- year old daughter Saidasherin escaped without any serious wounds.
Similar is the experience of Ashraf, a native of east Kozhikode, now under treatment at the Medical College Hospital here, who said he was yet to recover from the shock.
“As soon the flight crashed, the emergency door was opened and people jumped out to safety, another survivor said.
Ashik, undergoing treatment at a hospital here, said the fire force personnel reached immediately and shifted the injured to hospital soon.
Will take corrective action: AAI chief
Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman Arvind Singh on Saturday said “corrective action” will be taken after receiving the probe report on the Air India Express plane crash at Kozhikode airport.
Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) is probing the accident.
Singh said rescue work is over and reasons for the crash would be known once the AAIB report comes. - PTI
Dubai-based Indian expat count his lucky stars as 7 family members survive AI plane crash
Dubai-based Indian expat Shemir Vadakkan Pathappiriyam is exhausted but overjoyed as all the seven members of his and his brother’s family survived the Air India Express plane crash
“When I finally managed to speak to my wife, she told me that she and the other family members were rescued by the local people,” he said and thanked the authorities and the local people who rushed to his family’s rescue at the site of the crash.
Shemir’s wife was travelling with their two daughters and a son. His brother Safvan’s wife and their daughter and a son were also on board the Vande Bharat flight from Dubai to Kozhikode.
Families of deceased pilots to be taken to Kozhikode
Air India Express lost two of its pilots, Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe and First Officer Akhilesh Kumar, in Friday’s crash in Kozhikode . Their families were escorted from Mumbai and New Delhi to Kozhikode early on Saturday.
Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe, 59, and the commander of the flight, was a highly decorated pilot. He received the Sword of Honour at Air Force Academy given to the top-ranking cadet, and was an accomplished fighter pilot. He was also a test pilot for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. He joined Air India Express in 2013.
Most passengers in the ill-fated plane were stranded tourists
The passenger manifest of the flight, a copy of which is with The Hindu , shows that a large number of passengers were those who were stranded tourists reuniting with their families after months, accounting for as many as 56 passengers of the total 175 onboard.
There were many who were forced to return after they lost their jobs as well as those whose visas had expired.
Some were students, while atleast two were returning to get married. - Jagriti Chandra
Kerala govt announces Rs 10 lakh compensation
The Kerala government has announced Rs 10 lakh compensation to the families of those who died in the Air India crash.
The medical expenses of those under treatment will be taken over by the state government, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at a press meet at Kozhikode Medical College. Kerala Governor Mohammed Arif Khan was also present.
Currently, 149 people are in various hospitals of Malappuram and Kozhikode, out of which 23 are in critical condition. - A.S. Jayanth
CISF personnel quarantined
The CISF has directed its personnel to go into preventive quarantine after at least two passengers of the Air India Express flight that crashed at Kozhikode tested positive for COVID-19.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has said it was the “first responder” to rescue passengers on Friday as its Assistant Sub Inspector Ajit Singh was on runway patrol when the Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people onboard overshot the table top runway.
“We are identifying our personnel, who rescued the passengers who have tested positive for coronavirus,” CISF Special Director General (Airports) M A Ganapathy told PTI.
Around 50 CISF personnel, who were involved in the rescue operation, and their family members have been asked to quarantine themselves. The force will also conduct COVID-19 tests of all those who were exposed. - PTI
When AI Express mentioned Kozhikode airport and runway as among ‘most beautiful’
Four years ago, Air India Express mentioned Kozhikode international airport in a list of India’s “most beautiful airports and runways”. On Friday, the budget airline’s Boeing 737 aircraft crashed at the same aerodrome.
The tabletop runway at the airport, located in Kerala, poses challenges for pilots at the time of landing and there cannot be any margin for error. A tabletop runway is constructed on a hilly or an elevated terrain.
In a blog post titled ‘India’s Most Beautiful Runways and Airports’ dated August 26, 2016, the airline said the joys of flying are made even more spectacular when you are greeted by the scenic beauty of your dream destination.
Listing out some of the “most beautiful airports and runways located in places that are even more picturesque”, Air India Express mentioned about Kozhikode airport.
“Calicut International Airport, also known as Karipur Airport, is an international airport serving the cities of Kozhikode and Malappuram in Kerala, India. It is located in Karipur, about 25 km from Malappuram and 28 km from Kozhikode. The airport is one of only three tabletop runways in the country... built on a hilly terrain and can be challenging to pilots,” the blog post on its website had said.
Other airports mentioned in the blog included those at Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Leh and Shimla. - PTI
Air India issues statement on the pilots
In a statement, Air india said that Capt. Deepak Sathe was an experience Boeing 737-800 aircraft pilot , and that the families of both the pilots have been escorted to Kozhikode by the Angels of Air India.
"We would like to update that the Commander of the ill fated aircraft IX-1344 Capt. Deepak Vasant Sathe was an experienced Boeing 737-800 aircraft pilot and had earlier also flown the Airbus A-310. He had also won the sword of honour at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad and was an accomplished fighter pilot before becoming a commercial pilot," it said in a statement.
"The family of the deceased Commander Capt. Deepak Vasant Sathe has been duly escorted by the Angels of Air India and the Emergency Response Team from Mumbai to Calicut. The family was escorted to the hospital where the mortal remains of the Captain were kept for post mortem," it added.
"As regards the family of the deceased co-pilot Capt. Akhilesh Kumar, they have already been escorted from Delhi to Calicut by Air India Express officials and Angels of Air India," the statement read. - Jagriti Chandra reports from Delhi
Post-mortem to be completed by 3 p.m.
Post-mortem examination of those who died in the air crash at the Karipur airport will be completed by 3 p.m. today, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. He was speaking at a press conference held at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode after he visited the injured.
He said that the condition of 23 injured are critical, and added that the government will bear the cost of treatment of all those who have been injured. - A.S. Jayanth
Fast response of local people and officials made all the difference, says CM
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appreciated the swift rescue work at the site of the accident on Friday night.
"Yesterday, the fast response of local people and officials made all the difference. They braved bad weather and COVID fears to rescue their fellow beings. The long queues of people who wanted to donate blood was just one example," he wrote on Twitter.
"We have seen this many times, when there is an adversity, the people of Kerala come together to fight it. Humanity, the greater goodness that binds us all, is the bedrock of our society. Let's take a moment to congratulate the people of Malappuram and Kozhikode," he added.
Union Ministers dismiss speculation around table-top runway
Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muralidharan dismissed the reports that the table-top runway at Karipur airport had been dangerous. He said permission had been granted for large aircraft to operate from Karipur after detailed examinations and clearance by the Director General of Civil Aviation. He said he had not heard or seen any official report describing Karipur as “an unsafe airport”.
Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri too echoed this. He acknowledged that a showcause notice was issued on Kozhikode airport in 2019, but said that all the technical issues mentioned in it were settled last year itself. He added that the DGCA had then cleared the operation of aircraft.
- Abdul Lateef Naha and Biju Govind report from Kerala.
Aviation minister announces monetary relief for victims
Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced that Air India Express will provide an interim relief of ₹10 lakh each to families of the deceased, ₹2 lakh each for the injured and ₹50,000 for passengers with minor injuries in the crash.
The Union Minister arrived in Kozhikode airport in the afternoon and took stock of the status and implementation of relief measures. He confirmed that the black box has been retrieved and that he will hold consultations with senior civil aviation officials, professionals regarding the incident.
DGCA had issued notice to Kozhikode airport in July 2019 over critical safety lapses
Aviation regulator DGCA had issued a show-cause notice to the director of the Kozhikode airport on July 11 last year after it found “various critical safety lapses”, officials said on Saturday.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation pointed to cracks on the runway, water stagnation and excessive rubber deposits among other lapses in its show-cause notice.
The DGCA conducted the inspection after an Air India Express flight coming from Dammam in Saudi Arabia had a “tail strike” while landing at the Calicut (Kozhikode) airport on July 2 last year, an official said. - PTI
Officials have released the identities of 18 of the deceased, including the two pilots. The names are as follows:
1. Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe (60) - pilot
2. Akhilesh Kumar - copilot
3. Ayisha Dua (2), Mannarkkad, Palakkad
4. Shaheer Sayeed (38), Tirur, Malappuram,
5. Sudheer Variath (45), Valanchery, Malappuram
6. K.V. Lailabi (51), Edappal, Malappuram,
7. Janaki Kunnoth (55), Naduvannur, Kozhikode
8. Sanobiya (40), South Beach road, Kozhikode
9. Asam Mohammed Chembayi (1), Marykkunnu, Kozhikode
10. Ramya Muraleedhran (32), Kakkattil, Kozhikode
11. Manal Ahaned (25), Nadapuram, Kozhikode
12. Sharafuddeen (35), Kunnamangalam, Kozhikode
13. Shesa Fathima (2), Tirur, Malappuram
14. Rajeevan (61), Balussery, Kozhikode
15. Shantha Marangatt (59), Tirur, Malappuram
16. Sivathmika Muraleedhran Ramya (5), Kakkattil, Kozhikode
17. Sahira Banu Manchara (29), Marykkunnu, Kozhikode.
18. V.P. Mohammed Riyas (24), Chalavara, Palakkad
- A.S. Jayanth reports from Kozhikode
Deceased passenger tests positive for COVID-19
One of the passengers, who died when an Air India Express flight from Dubai crashed landed at the airport, has tested positive for COVID-19.
Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel told the media that samples of the passenger, Sudheer Varyath (45), were sent for testing and it has returned positive for the disease.
Health Minister K K Shailaja has asked all the people who were engaged in the rescue operations should report to the health authorities and go on self quarantine as a precautionary measure and get themselves tested.
The condition of 16 passengers, admitted to various hospitals, is serious, Malappuram Collector K Gopalakrishnan said. - PTI
Black box recovered from the site
The black box of the Air India flight, which includes the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and a Cockpit Voice Recorder, has been recovered from the accident site. Together, the data and cockpit recorders (electronic flight data recorders) help understand the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the event.
Tiny chips in these devices record hundreds of streams of data on parameters that include aircraft performance (speed, height, rate of climb or descent, flight path, location, fuel levels, engine temperature and exhaust as well as flap positions), the state of other systems and other equipment.
The data helps experts piece together the cause of an accident or serious incident. According to experts, investigators do not have to fully reconstruct a flight to understand the cause of an accident. Much of the information needed can be deciphered from the parameters rather than using a flight simulator or animation.
Complete black box analysis can be done only by a few specialised agencies worldwide, especially as there are various models; the West leads in this. Specialised laboratories can pitch in too. The devices recovered from Delhi are with the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau and will be sent to Delhi for further investigation, according to DGCA.
AI Express plane touched down near taxiway, 1,000 metres from beginning of runway
The Air India Express plane touched down near a taxiway that is around 1,000 metres from the beginning of the runway at the Kozhikode airport before breaking up into two pieces, according to AAI.
The pilot of the flight could not sight the runway in the first landing attempt due to heavy rains.
The Kozhikode airport in Kerala has a table-top runway and is operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Generally, table-top runways are constructed on a hilly or an elevated terrain.
An AAI spokesperson said that runway 28 was in use and in the first landing attempt, the pilot could not sight the runway and requested for runway 10.
Citing information from the Air Traffic Controller (ATC), the spokesperson said the aircraft touched down near taxiway ‘C’, which is approximately 1,000 metres from the beginning of runway 10. The total length of the runway is 2,700 metres.
The spokesperson also said that it was raining over the airfield and reported visibility at the time of landing was 2,000 metres. - PTI
Kerala governor, CM and Ministers leave for Karipur
Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan and a team of Cabinet Ministers led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan have left Thiruvananthapuram for Karipur in Kozhikode in a special flight operated by Air India.
The team includes Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta, State Police Chief Loknath Behera, Health Minister K.K. Shylaja, Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, Minister for Ports Ramachandran Kadannapally, Minister for Transport A.K. Saseendran and Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has left for Karipur by car from his private residence at Haripad in Alappuzha district. He is expected to join the delegation. - G. Anand from Thiruvananthapuram
Rescue workers asked to go into quarantine
Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shylaja has urged those who had engaged in relief and rescue works at the air crash site to go into quarantine. This comes after some the deceased tested positive for coronavirus.
The Air India flight was part of Vande Bharat mission to bring back Indians stuck in the Middle Eastern countries during the pandemic.
Boeing offers to assist in Air India Express accident probe
Manufacturer Boeing has offered technical assistance to probe the cause behind the accident.
“Boeing is prepared to provide a technical team to assist the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, in accordance with ICAO Annex 13 guidelines, as The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of India conducts its investigation,” Boeing said in a statement.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the Air India Express accident at Kozhikode International Airport,” the statement said.
“Our thoughts are also with the passengers and crew who were injured, and we hope for their swift recovery. We are in contact with the Air India team, and have offered to support them in any way possible,” it added. - Lalatendu Mishra from Mumbai
Four cabin crew members safe, says airlines
Four cabin crew members of the Air India Express flight that crash landed at the Karipur airport here are safe, the national transporter said on Saturday.
“The four cabin crew members are confirmed safe,” Air India Express said in a bulletin.
Air India Express Employees Union said cabin crew suffered some injuries and are under treatment at the Kozhikode hospital. - PTI
Update on the condition of the injured:
The condition of 12 passengers admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode and the 16 passengers admitted to the Government General Hospital is stable, according to the Health Department.
Seven of the passengers admitted to the Meitra Hospital in Kozhikode have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. One of them is on ventilator support.
Family members of pilots arrive in Kozhikode
The family members of the two pilots who passed away in the crash have arrived at Kozhikode from Mumbai. The pilot-in-command Captain Deepak Sathe and his co- pilot Akhilesh Kumar were among those who lost their lives.
The flight also brought members of the aircraft recovery team and flight safety team, among others.
Avoid speculation on safety of runway, says Minister
Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan & a team of DGCA officials reached the airport early on Saturday morning to inspect the site of the accident.
Mr. Muraleedharan said that there is no need for speculation on the safety of runway, and that the DGCA team and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (a division of the Ministry of Civil Aviation) are inspecting the site.
Union Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said that the inclement weather could be cause of accident. Mr. Puri is expected to reach the accident site by noon today. - Biju Govind from Kozhikode
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