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Kozhikode plane crash | Several safety recommendations were heeded, says DGCA Chief Arun Kumar

A view of the table top runway of the Calicut airport.

A view of the table top runway of the Calicut airport.   | Photo Credit: S. Ramesh Kurup

Several recommendations for Calicut airport in 2011 by an air safety committee constituted in the aftermath of the Mangaluru crash were implemented, while a few could not be executed due to the lack of land availability, said the chief of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Kumar in an interview.

“The safety area on both sides of the runway was increased, and some other measures were also adopted. These were implemented in several batches until 2017. However, the length of the runway could not be increased because of land availability issues,” said Mr. Kumar. The DGCA is the aviation safety regulatory body of the country.

He added that the length of the two runways at Calicut airport is 8,000 feet, which he claimed is adequate for wide-body and narrow-body planes. Friday’s ill-fated aircraft was a narrow body, a Boeing 737.

A separate audit of the airport done in 2019, following multiple runway excursions in rainy conditions, also led to Mr. Kumar making stringent observations, as many as 16, against Calicut International Airport. These included concerns about “excessive rubber deposits”, “water stagnation”, and “several cracks”.

“These actions were acted upon. AAI procured a rubber removal equipment machine and did periodical friction tests as well. Several actions were taken, including against errant officials. We were satisfied with compliance,” Mr. Kumar added.

He also told The Hindu that the aircraft touched down in the second attempt, after aborting landing in the first instance — an indication of adverse conditions making the landing tough. Pilots are encouraged to abort landings if they have apprehensions. He also said that the aircraft landed beyond the touchdown zone of zero feet to 3,000 feet, increasing the chances of overshooting the runway, and stopped 10 feet beyond the runway safety area.

“Will not speculate about the cause of the accident. Only the flight data recorder and the voice data recorder (two black boxes) will reveal the cause. Anything could have gone wrong — adverse wind conditions or some technical malfunction,” he explained.

A team of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau — the agency in-charge of probing accidents — arrived at the accident site on Saturday morning. They will seek help from Boeing as well as from their U.S. counterpart, the National Transport Safety Board for downloading the data and analysing it. This is likely to take “a day or two”.

 

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 1:34:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/several-safety-recommendations-were-heeded-to-dgca-chief-arun-kumar/article32305430.ece

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