Air India flight IX-1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode overshot the runway while landing at Kozhikode Airport last week, resulting in the death of 18 people, including both pilots. We take a look at the data from the incident, and analyse the cause of the incident.
FlightRadar24 Data Set
We analyse in detail the data that was recorded by the site FlightRadar24.com for flight IX-1344 on Aug 7th 2020.
For this, we analyse two graphs. These graphs represent the flight progress from taxing until the last moment when the pilots attempted the landing. The X-Axis shows UTC Time while the other two axes are marked according to the data sets.
Take-off and Cruise
The flight started from Dubai Airport at 10:00:58 UTC. It was a very normal take-off, and the aircraft reached its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet in 33 minutes. During the cruise phase, the aircraft ground speed was in the range of 800 to 700 kmph, probably due to encountering variable headwinds. The heading of the aircraft was maintained around 120, the direct path towards Kozhikode airport.
Descent and Fly-over Airport
The descent is again observed to be normal. In about 30 minutes the plane descended from 35,000 feet to 3000 feet above MSL. The average descent rate was around 1000 feet per minute, an extremely smooth descent.
Aligning Over Runway 28 and Overfly the Airport
The plane then did a slight left turn, and the direction changed from 120 to 100. The aircraft overflew Kozhikode airport from west to east right over the runway at 13:45 UTC altitude 3000 feet speed 400 kmph.
U-turn at aborted landing on Runway 28
Runway 28 was cleared for landing. After overflying the airport, the pilots made a teardrop turn and aligned the aircraft with Runway 28. ATC reported visibility of 2000 meters and headwinds of 15 knots. For a couple of minutes, the aircraft was perfectly aligned to runway 28, at the height of 2300 feet, with a speed of around 300 kmph. However, it is not yet established why the pilots decided to abort landing on this runway.
Attempted Landing On Runway 10
One more go-around, again a teardrop approach and the aircraft was aligned with runway 10. The last data point received was when the plane was at 925 feet, heading 101, speed 325 kmph. A tailwind of 15 knots was reported with heavy rain.
According to press reports, the plane landed 1 km away from the normal touchdown point. The runway being 3 km long, this reduced the braking distance to less than 2 km. However, a maximum load B737-800 requires close to 2 km braking distance in wet conditions. The remaining distance was barely adequate to stop the aircraft.
It has been reported that the pilot decided to abort this second landing too and had accelerated the aircraft again for taking off. This could be possible since there are no slide marks on the hillock where the crash took place. It appears that the plane did take off and then fell down due to less speed and lift. This fact is also corroborated by an eye-witness security guard on-duty posted near the accident site.
The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder of the ill-fated Air India Express flight IX-1344 have been retrieved. Actual facts can only be ascertained once the black box is decoded.
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Editorial Disclaimer: This analysis does not purport to be based on any official communication from either the airline or from the crash investigators and does not claim to represent the actual scenario.