Black Box Recovered From Crashed Air India Express Flight In Kerala: 10 Points

  • | Saturday | 8th August, 2020

The black box - or flight data recorders - of the Air India Express flight that crashed at Kerala`s Kozhikode airport late Friday evening have been found. Flight IX-1344, carrying 184 people from Dubai, broke up into pieces after skidding off a tabletop runway amid heavy rain and hurtling down a valley at 7.41 PM. At least 18 people, including both pilots, were killed and 127 others injured.

Kozhikode: The black box - or flight data recorders - of the Air India Express flight that crashed at Kerala`s Kozhikode airport late Friday evening have been found. Flight IX-1344, carrying 184 people from Dubai, broke up into pieces after skidding off a tabletop runway amid heavy rain and hurtling down a valley at 7.41 PM. At least 18 people, including both pilots, were killed and 127 others injured. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, expected in Kozhikode this afternoon, has ordered an investigation. A team from aviation watchdog DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) has already reached the crash site. The airport, built on top of a hill with limited space at the end of the runway, is one of Kerala`s most prominent international terminals and handles many flights from abroad.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

1.   The black box - a Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) - stores crucial information about a plane`s altitude, position and speed, as well as records of conversations between the pilots, and is critical in helping aviation investigators understand what happened to flight IX-1344.

2.   Flightradar24, a Swedish flight tracker website that displays real-time commercial flight movement, indicated IX-1344 circled the airport and tried to land twice. A DGCA investigator told news agency ANI the pilots faced difficulties landing on their runway before making an attempt from the opposite side, during which the plane overshot and crash-landed. The officer said the aircraft was at full speed while landing and continued to the edge of the runway and fell into the valley.

3.   The flight was operating under the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad because of the coronavirus lockdown. There were 184 people on board the plane, including 10 babies and four crew members. Many of the passengers were returning home after losing their jobs due to the pandemic. The injured passengers are being treated at 13 hospitals in and around Kozhikode airport and city, Union Minister V Muraleedharan told Saturday morning.

4.   A tabletop runway is a runway on the top of a plateau or hill, with one or both ends adjacent to a steep elevation that drops into a gorge. Such an airport presents pilots with a challenge when landing. Conditions at the time of flight IX-1344`s landing - heavy monsoon rain made the runway`s surface slick - were an additional challenge.

5.   The runway at Kozhikode airport, which has suffered serious damage after incessant rains in the past, has been frequently flagged as a hazard. A top expert released a report nine years ago that said "the runway has a steep downslope (and) no safety area". "They were warned nine years back and given proof but they continued to operate and declared the airport safe," Captain Mohan Ranganathan said.

6.   However, speaking to media, V Muraleedharan dismissed concerns about the runway`s safety, pointing out that over the past three months "hundreds of flights have landed at the same runway" as part of the central government`s Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians stranded abroad by the coronavirus lockdown.

7.   The pilots of the plane, both of whom were killed in the crash, have been identified as Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe and Captain Akhilesh Kumar. The Wing Commander was a decorated former Indian Air Force fighter pilot who also flew planes for Air India before moving on to Air India Express.

8.   A worse tragedy was averted because the plane did not catch fire after the crash. In the heavy downpour, rescue personnel, including local policemen, pulled out people from the debris and jagged pieces of the plane`s fuselage scattered on a slope. Little children, wailing in fear, were found trapped under seats.

9.   President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are among those to have expressed grief. "Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest," PM Modi tweeted. An aircraft from Mumbai also took "Angels of Air India" - grief counsellors - and other employees to coordinate relief and assistance.

10.                     In 2010 another Air India Express flight crashed at Karnataka`s Mangaluru International Airport in similar circumstances, killing 158 people. The flight from Dubai had overshot the runway and plunged down the cliff into a wooded valley. An investigation found that the Captain had misjudged the height while landing, resulting in the flight overshooting the runway located on a plateau.

Helplines: Air India Express - 1800 2222 71, Airport Control Room - 0483 2719493, Malappuram Collectorate - 0483 2736320, Kozhikode Collectorate - 0495 2376901



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