The UN’s aviation watchdog International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has decided to conduct another safety audit of India’s air safety readiness.
The audit, which was pre-planned, assumes significance as it comes in the aftermath of the Air India Express crash in which 20 people were killed, including the pilot and the co-pilot, and several others were injured when the flight from Dubai with 190 people onboard overshot the runway at Calicut airport and fell into a valley.
“An ICAO team was supposed to come for an audit in November, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and border closures, the audit has been postponed to January. ICAO team will check safety aspects of airlines, airports, ground handling firms, regulatory bodies to ascertain that they are upto the international standards,” said an official aware of the development.
ICAO had carried out the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme for India in November 2017, followed by a second audit in February 2018. The audit result showed that the country’s score declined to 57.44 per cent from 65.82 per cent earlier, placing India below Pakistan, Nepal and many other nations.
However, subsequently, the civil aviation ministry and aviation regulator DGCA took steps, following which the score improved to 74.
During its audit, ICAO looks at eight areas. These include primary aviation legislation and civil aviation regulations, civil aviation organisation, personnel licensing and training, aircraft operations and airworthiness of aircraft.
The outcome of the audit score is crucial for Indian airlines as it could impact their international expansion plans.
During its audit in 2012, ICAO had placed India in its list of 13 worst-performing nations. This triggered an audit by US aviation regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2014, which downgraded the country’s ranking, citing a lack of adequate regulatory oversight.
Indian airlines were not allowed to add new routes to the US or sign commercial agreements with US airlines during this period. The rating were restored one year later.
“Naturally when there has been an accident where lives were lost, an ICAO audit is significant, but we are well prepared. The accident investigation is also taking its own course and by the time ICAO is here, it will be completed. We are also keeping ICAO updated about the progress in investigation,” the official said.
The primary issue pointed out during the 2017 and 2018 audit by ICAO was to make DGCA licensing authority for ATC officers. Earlier, Airports Authority of India (AAI), which is also ATC service provider, had been licensing ATCOs. ICAO considered it a conflict of interest for the service provider to be its regulator as well. In fact, India was the only big aviation market where the safety regulator did not have authority to license ATC officers
“We changed the system and now DGCA has almost completed licensing all 2,500 ATCO officials,” the official said.
NEW DELHI: The two leading pilot unions of Air India on Thursday sought a meeting with aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri to discuss matters related to working conditions and flight safety, six days after the plane crash in Kozhikode that killed 18 people.
“Our pilots are constantly facing the challenges of COVID-19, monsoon weather, ill-designed flight duty time limitations (FDTL), several extensions and dispensations given by the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation),” stated the letter written to Puri by the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG).
The two unions said they are writing on behalf of pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries Air India Express and Alliance Air.
An Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people, including a six-member crew, overshot the tabletop runway during landing at the Kozhikode airport in heavy rain on the night of August 7.
The narrow body B737 plane fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into pieces, killing 18 people, including both the pilots.
The two unions said in their letter: “Aviation policy makers are creating a caustic work environment without any reproach or consequence. It is paramount that the safety of the travelling public is not compromised. In this you are our singular hope.”
Talking about the Kozhikode plane crash, the unions noted: “Pending the findings of the official investigations, may we highlight the fact that the flight safety and working conditions of the pilots of Air India group companies can not be seen in isolation.” They said the recently imposed pay cut by Air India was “steep, disproportionate and retrospective” and it specifically targets the pilots of Air India group companies.
Air India last month issued an internal order stating it has reduced monthly allowances of its employees who have a monthly gross salary of more than Rs 25,000 by up to 50 per cent.
Air India Express said on Thursday a total of 92 passengers injured in the plane crash in Kozhikode have been discharged till date from hospitals after “obtaining complete fitness”.
The DGCA has barred operation of wide body aircraft at Kozhikode airport for this monsoon season out of abundant caution, said a senior official on Tuesday, adding that the aviation regulator will conduct a special audit of airports that receive heavy rains.
The black box of an Air India Express jet that overshot the tabletop runway of the Calicut International Airport while arriving from Dubai, nosedived and split into two was recovered on Saturday, even as authorities launched an investigation into the worst air disaster in India in a decade that has claimed 18 lives.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the site of the accident on Saturday to assess the situation on the ground. “It (the plane) overshot the runway while trying to land amid what were clearly inclement weather conditions prevailing at that time,” he said at a news briefing, but added that it was still too early to speculate on the cause of the crash.
The Union minister said two separate teams reached Kozhikode from New Delhi to carry out investigations into the crash. Responders managed to rescue most of the passengers because the plane did not catch fire while descending the slope at the end of the runway, he added.
Puri said there was no question over the pilots’ competence.
An official from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were recovered from the crash site on Saturday. The cockpit voice recorder keeps a recording of all the conversations taking place in a plane’s cockpit and along with the flight data recorder, which logs data such as airspeed, altitude and fuel flow, it can help in determining the cause of the crash.
Air India Express AIX1344 was a repatriation flight under the Vande Bharat programme for Indians who were stranded outside the country amid travel restrictions brought on by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
On Saturday, the sample of one of the passengers who died in the accident tested positive for the infectious disease, with state health minister KK Shailaja asking all those engaged in rescue operations to go into self-quarantine as a precautionary measure and get themselves tested.
Puri earlier said the passengers included 174 adult passengers, 10 children, four cabin crew and two pilots.
“We were happy when we were about to touch down and I told my wife sitting beside me that rain was a welcome sign. But the happiness was short-lived. Suddenly, there were big jerks and loud cries. I tumbled out of my seat and lost consciousness. When I opened my eyes at the hospital, I was happy to see my injured wife. A pregnant woman, who was sitting next to us, was not so lucky,” said a survivor, who did not wish to be identified.
Many people eager to see their injured relatives engaged hospital workers, who could be seen repeatedly asking them to maintain social distancing under Covid-19 prevention rules.
The commander of the aircraft, Deepak Vasant Sathe, a former fighter pilot with the Indian Air Force, had 10,000 hours of flying experience on the Boeing 737 aircraft, Puri said. Out of those, he flew 6,662 hours as commander. Sathe had landed at the challenging airport 27 times, including more than 10 times this year. His co-pilot, 32-year-old Akhilesh Kumar, also had experience of 1,728 hours of flying with the aircraft.
“He (Sathe) was a very accomplished, experienced, decorated person in command of the aircraft. There is absolutely no doubt over their competence,” Puri said.
The minister left from Delhi to Kozhikode on Saturday morning along with two probe teams. One flight took off around 2am from Delhi, carrying investigating officers from DGCA, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), the CEO of Air India Express and other officials of the national transporter, people aware of the developments said. Another flight from Mumbai to Kozhikode took off around 6am, carrying a rescue team of Air India to provide support and assist families of those affected by the accident, they added.
Air India Express is a subsidiary of state-run airline Air India.
“Reached Kozhikode to take stock of the status & implementation of relief measures after the air accident last evening. Will hold consultations with senior civil aviation officials & professionals. Digital Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder of the ill-fated aircraft have been retrieved. AAIB is conducting investigations. It is very unfortunate that 18 people including the two pilots have lost their lives in this air accident. I once again offer my condolences to the families of the bereaved & wish speedy recovery to those injured,” Puri tweeted.
The civil aviation ministry’s accident investigation division, AAIB, will conduct a detailed investigation into the crash. The bureau’s role is to conduct independent aircraft accident investigation and to obtain a preliminary report on the accident and assist in setting up of a committee of inquiry and formal investigation in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules.
The so-called tabletop airport has limited space at the end of the runway, and several international airlines have stopped flying bigger aircraft into Kozhikode in the past due to safety issues over the length of the runway.
Puri said that there was no need to speculate on what happened during the crash till the probe was been completed and DGCA filed an investigation report.
“We will look into all the issues. Let me tell you that there are tabletop airports not just in our country, but all over the world. These airports pose a problem but then landing clearances are given based on the experience of the pilots. Let us not speculate as a full and comprehensive probe will take place,” he added.
According to a route playback on flight-tracking website FlightRadar24, the plane circled the airport twice before attempting to land. In its second instance, it aborted the attempt with 2,000 feet to go.
The crash has claimed at least 18 lives, including the two pilots. Air India Express on Saturday said it will provide an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the family members of the deceased passengers over 12 years of age and above Rs 5 lakh to those of passengers below the age of 12. Rs 2 lakh each will be given to critically injured passengers and Rs 50,000 to other injured passengers.
The Kerala government said the condition of 23 of the 149 injured undergoing treatment at various hospitals was critical while one more person succumbed on Saturday, taking the death toll to 18.
According to an official document issued by the government, four of the deceased were children — three girls and a one-year old boy — and seven were men and other women. Two girls were aged two and the other was five.
“It was raining heavily and we suddenly heard a deafening sound and the aircraft came out of the boundary wall and fell on the road. We couldn’t believe it. Soon, we heard cries for help. Smoke was billowing and there was smell of aircraft fuel also,” said Mohamad Sahal, one of the first people to reach the spot.
Air India Express said the families of the deceased pilots were escorted to Kozhikode. The airline also said three relief flights had been arranged to assist passengers and their family members affected in the accident that also brought back memories of the crash of Air India Express flight IX 812 on May 22, 2010, at the Mangaluru International Airport.
The flight from Dubai had overshot the runway and plunged down the cliff into a wooded valley, killing 158 people.
An aviation official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it emerged 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”. DCGA had pointed to cracks on the runway, water stagnation and excessive rubber deposits among other lapses in its show-cause notice, the official added.
Safety concerns over flight operations at tabletop runways in airports were raised following the 2010 Air India Express crash in Mangaluru. A court of enquiry report by Air Marshal BN Gokhale had then noted tabletop airports required extra skill and caution while carrying out flight operations. It said that the hazard of “undershooting” and “overshooting”, in particular, can lead to grave situations, as was the case in the Mangaluru accident.
NEW DELHI: Air safety regulator plans to conduct special audits of airports across the country affected by heavy rain, the watchdog’s chief told Reuters, days after an air crash killed 18 people and raised questions about safety.
An Air India Express plane with 190 people on board, overshot the rain-soaked runway at an airport near the southern city of Kozhikode on Friday. The Boeing 737 landed in tailwind, skid off the runway and broke in half.
“We will conduct additional checks at major, busy airports across India that are affected by the monsoon rains,” Arun Kumar, head of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in an interview late on Monday.
“We will review everything – the condition of the runway, its incline, the lighting as well as drainage.”
Kumar said the special audit was over and above the DGCA’s routine checks and could cover a dozen airports including those in Chennai, Kochi, Trivandrum as well as Mumbai, all of which get heavy annual rains.
Air India Express is the low cost arm of state carrier Air India. The flight was repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The black boxes have been recovered and their data is being examined.
India’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau is leading the probe into the crash. Boeing and the US National Transportation Safety Board are also taking part in the effort, Kumar said.
“Once the findings are finalised, and if something is amiss we will take action to rectify it,” he said.
The crash was the worst in India in a decade, and the second fatal accident on a “table-top” runway which is typically found in high-altitude areas.
Table-top runways are built by excavating the peaks of hills and have steep drops at one or both ends, increasing the danger if pilots under- or over-shoot their approach.
At Calicut airport, where the plane crashed on Friday, the pilot landed a third of the way along the runway, Kumar said on Sunday, leaving less room to bring the plane to a halt. Airports with table-top runways are subject to the same rigorous regulatory requirements and are periodically audited for safety, Kumar said.
In 2010, an Air India Express plane overshot a similar runway in the southern city of Mangalore. It fell down a hillside and burst into flames, killing 158 people.
A government-led committee looking into that crash had suggested installing an Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) on table-top airports. EMAS is a special surface usually installed at the end of the runway to quickly stop an aircraft.
However, a second committee suggested that if the runway safety area was increased at Calicut airport, the EMAS would not be needed, Kumar said.
Subsequently, the runway safety area was increased to 240 metres, more than the 90 metres prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, he said.
Retired officials of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are likely to be roped in to investigate the Air India Express plane crash in Kozhikode – one of the worst air disasters in India in a decade. Air India Express AIX1344 was a repatriation flight under the Vande Bharat programme for Indians stranded overseas amid travel restrictions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Senior government officials said while the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) will be the regulatory body in charge of the investigation, the government wants external experts to be part of the committee to reinstate public confidence. Sources aware of the process said the government has zeroed in on four retired and serving officials of the IAF and sought their consent. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has also written to the defence ministry to relieve the officials of their fixed duties during the course of enquiry.
Business Standard has learnt that among the officials approached are Air Marshall B Suresh, who recently retired as Chief of Western Command, Air Marshall Rajeev Sachdeva, Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and some officials from the Aviation Research Centre – the air intelligence wing of the government. The government will prefer someone who has experience flying the Boeing 737. The IAF has a few Being 737s in its fleet for ferrying VIPs, including the President of India. “This is the worst air crash in a decade. While AAIB officials have been investigating accidents since 2017, there were no fatalities in those cases. Simultaneously, there is a need to restore public confidence in the investigation, as the aviation industry passes through its worst phase due to Covid-19,” said a government official. Along with IAF officials, the AAIB will also reach out to experienced private sector executives, meteorologists, and aviation psychologists to be part of the probe.
The regulations of International Civil Aviation Organization mandate that accident investigators have a practical background in aviation as a foundation on which to develop investigation skills. “These can be by working as a professional pilot, an aeronautical engineer or aircraft maintenance engineer. Other specialised areas of aviation that could provide useful experience include management, operations, airworthiness, air traffic services, meteorology, and human factors,” stated the manual on aircraft accident investigation.
Several people who have been part of serious aircraft accidents in India said looking at the experience of pilots, it is necessary to focus on human factors to determine whether or not there was an error by the pilots. Aircraft Commander Deepak Sathe, a former fighter pilot with the IAF, had 10,000 hours of flying experience on the Boeing 737. Of those, he flew 6,662 hours as commander. Sathe had landed at the challenging airport 27 times, including more than 10 times this year. His co-pilot, 32-year-old Akhilesh Kumar, had experience of 1,728 hours of flying the aircraft.
The tragic aviation accident on Friday evening at Kozhikode airport which claimed 18 lives has once again foreground the issue of aviation safety in India. An Air India Express Boeing 737 flying in from Dubai overshot the runway while trying to land in rainy weather. What we know is that the aircraft’s commander, an Air Force veteran, was a seasoned pilot. It was his second try at landing that evening and the plane landed beyond the touchdown point. Consequently, it overshot and given that Kozhikode has a tabletop airport, the aircraft plunged 35 feet.
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered, which should help the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau identify the cause of the accident. The last such major mishap in India took place at Mangalore, another tabletop airport on the west coast, in 2010. The Court of Inquiry, headed by an Air Force veteran, found that the Mangalore accident was on account of the pilot’s mistake. Over the last couple of days, civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri has asked people to refrain from speculating on the cause of the Kozhikode crash. What will help – given that citizens’ anxieties are understandable – is ensuring that the unedited investigation report is placed in public domain.
The investigation may take time but there should be no delay in turning the spotlight on the overall approach to aviation safety. An investigation two years ago by The Economic Times, using RTI, unearthed that 98% of the airports did not even calibrate the critical Instrument Landing Systems in a timely manner. It’s a pointer to a casual approach. The investigation also found that Shimla’s tabletop airport did not have service roads to allow fire engines quick access in the event of an emergency.
The government showcases the vibrancy of India’s aviation market. It has made increasing the density of India’s aviation network by using dormant regional airports a key policy plank. Yet, given the existing approach to safety, there are legitimate questions here for the aviation regulator DGCA and the ministry. Separately, there have been reports of near misses at different airports. And amidst the Covid-induced aviation slowdown, there are concerns whether maintenance has also slowed down. Safety culture really has to change for the better. One way to ensure this is greater accountability and another is to be transparent about safety audit reports. This will create pressure from stakeholders to improve standards.
An Air India Express flight with over 190 passengers and crew members onboard skidded off the runway at the Kozhikode International airport in Kerala on Friday evening. DGCA officials told news agency ANI that the Dubai-Kozhikode aircraft was at “full speed” while landing at the Karipur Airport and overshot the runway.
At least 19 were killed after an Air India Express flight with over 190 passengers and crew members onboard skidded off the tabletop runway at the Kozhikode International airport in Kerala, also known as the Karipur Airport, on Friday evening.
The Air India Express flight skidded off the tabletop runway and fell into a 35-ft-deep valley breaking up into two parts on Friday evening, police sources said.
Both pilot and the co-pilot are among the 19 killed in the flight mishap.
The flight was coming from Dubai and was part of India’s Vande Bharat mission, an initiative to bring back stranded Indians from foreign countries.
The fuselage broke into two after the aircraft overshot the runway at Kalipur airport. The aircraft has been identified as IX 344.
“Weather conditions being what they are, I’m told aircraft couldn’t be brought to a halt. As a tabletop airport, it imposes a challenge. There was a 30-feet drop to the ground below. Fortunately, the plane that broke into two from fuselage didn’t catch fire,” Hardeep Singh Puri told India Today TV.ADVERTISEMENT
Air India Express flight 1344, a Boeing 737-800, suffered a runway excursion on landing at Kozhikode-Calicut Airport, India. Local media report at least 17 fatalities. The flight departed Dubai Airport, United Arab Emirates at 10:15 UTC on a passenger service to Kozhikode-Calicut Airport. 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.
Weather Weather at the time of the approaches and landing was poor. At 14:00 UTC scattered clouds were reported at 300 and 1200 feet with a few Cumulonimbus clouds at 2500 feet and overcast clouds at 8000 feet. The wind was from 260 degrees at 12 knots. Visibility was 2000 m in rain.
Airport and runway The airport has a single runway (10/28) which is located on a flattened hill. The Landing Distance Available (LDA) for both directions is 2850 m. The runway strip extended to 60 m beyond the threshold. After the paved surface, there is a runway end safety area (RESA), measuring 93 m x 90 m. The ICAO required RESA length is 90 m, whereas the recommended length is 240 m. Past the RESA there is a 35 m drop off. Classification:Runway excursionSources:» indiatvnews.com » news18.com
METAR Weather report:13:00 UTC / 18:30 local time: VOCL 071300Z 20006KT 1500 -TSRA SCT003 SCT012 FEW025CB OVC080 24/24 Q1007 NOSIG
13:30 UTC / 19:00 local time: VOCL 071330Z 27013KT 1500 -TSRA SCT003 SCT012 FEW025CB OVC080 24/23 Q1008 NOSIG
14:00 UTC / 19:30 local time: VOCL 071400Z 26012KT 2000 -RA SCT003 SCT012 FEW025CB OVC080 24/23 Q1008 TEMPO 1500 -RA BR
14:30 UTC / 20:00 local time: VOCL 071430Z 24011KT 2000 -RA SCT003 SCT012 FEW025CB OVC080 24/23 Q1009 TEMPO 1500 -RA BR