Air India Express flight IX-1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode (Calicut), India suffered a runway excursion while landing at the airport at 7.40 pm (IST) on August 7. There were one hundred and eighty-four (184) passengers and six crew members on board. So far, eighteen (18) casualties have been reported. In this accident, one hundred twenty-seven (127) passengers and crew have been injured, and are being treated in local hospitals.
The Air India Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air India, has a fleet of twenty-five (25) B-737-800 aircraft. The aircraft in use was registered in India as VT-AXH, a thirteen (13) year old Boeing 737-800 aircraft running on two CFMI CFM56-7B27 engines. While landing on runway 10 (One Zero) from the east, the B737 overshot the runway and broke into two as it slid down into a valley. The Pilot had circled the airport twice before attempting to land in heavy rain. The flight path of the airport approach is shown in the Figure.
According to Aviation-Safety –
The aircraft arrived from the west, overflying the airport at 13:42 UTC. It then performed a teardrop approach to runway 28. This approach was discontinued, and the aircraft subsequently flew a teardrop approach to runway 10. The aircraft touched down at 14:11 UTC (19:41 local time) but reportedly suffered a runway excursion. Photos from the scene show the nose section had separated from the fuselage after the aircraft went down a slope.
This B737 aircraft has been regularly flying on the Gulf-Kozhikode route.
In this unfortunate incident, both Pilot’s have lost their lives along with 16 passengers which include infants. The Captain of the flight was Wing Commander (Retd.) Deepak Sathe, a decorated air force fighter pilot. Sathe was also a test Pilot and had worked at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Calicut airport, ICAO code VOCL, has an elevation of 343 feet above MSL. The airport has a single runway of length 9831 feet and is capable of handling wide-body aircraft such as B747s. The runway in on tabletop, with a drop of 40 feet at the on either side. After this incident, the runway has come under scrutiny and questions are being raised regarding the suitability of landing in inclement weather.
According to the news agency ANI, a Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official confirmed that the Digital Flight Data Recorder has been recovered from the aircraft. Efforts are on to cut the floorboard to retrieve the Cockpit Voice Recorder.
The Air India Express flight IX-1344 was operating under the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians from UAE. An enquiry has been ordered by India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, which will be conducted by the DGCA.