New Delhi: Following the Air India Express flight crash in Kozhikode Airport, also known as Calicut International Airport, questions have been raised as to why the warnings given by an aviation expert about the unsafe landing conditions of the airport were ignored during the last nine long years.
After the Mangalore air crash on May 22, 2010, Captain Mohan Ranganathan, a member of a safety advisory committee, constituted by the Union ministry of civil aviation, in his report on June 17, 2011 had said that Calicut International Airport is unsafe and landing should not be allowed there, especially during wet conditions.
Captain Mohan Ranganathan submitted the report to Dr Nasim Zaidi, chairman, Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC) and Bharat Bhusan, director general of civil aviation following the Mangalore air crash. A Boeing 737-800 passenger jet operating Air India Express Flight 812 from Dubai to Mangalore crashed on landing at Mangalore killing over 159 persons.
Civil aviation expert, Captain Mohan Ranganathan, said that the airport should have a buffer of 240 metres at the end of the runway, but it has only 90 metres (which the Director General of Civil Aviation [DGCA] had approved). Moreover, the space on either side of the runway is only 75 metres instead of the mandatory 100 metres.
“I understand that Runway 10 Instrument landing system (ILS) on trial basis as Calicut. Some of the crew are accepting even very high frequency Omni range (VOR) approaches on Runway 10. The reason if the lower minimum than Runway 28. However, all the flights that land on Runway 10 in tailwind conditions in rain, are endangering the lives of all on board,” he said.
Alleging that Calicut runway does not have the minimum Runway End Safety Area (RESA) on one end and no RESA on the other, Captain Mohan Ranganathan in its report said that the runway strip is just half the minimum width laid down in International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) annex 14.
“This fact was known to the DGCA team that has been conducting inspections and safety assessments during the past several years. Have they considered the danger involved? Has the DGCA or the airline laid down any operational restrictions or special procedures?” he added.
“It is a dangerous situation, especially in wet conditions. Runway 10 approaches should not be permitted in view of the lack of RESA and the terrain beyond the end of the runway. RESA of 240m should be immediately introduced and the runway length has to be reduced to make the operations safe,” Captain Ranganathan added.