Thursday, August 13, 2020

Wind, human error, air strip condition: Experts on possible reasons for AI crash

A gust of wind, wrong decision by the pilots, the condition of the air strip and even faulty indication by the instrument landing system could be possible reasons for the crash of the Air India Express plane on Friday in the south Indian city of Kozhikode, according to aviation experts.
The dominant reason cited by the experts was the decision by the pilots to not divert the Boeing 737 plane to another airport after the first attempt to land at the designated strip in Kozhikode failed amid rain.
The experts were, however, of the opinion that the real reasons would be known only after a thorough investigation into the crash is carried out and it is premature to conclude about why and how it happened.
The aircraft, bringing back 190 stranded Indians from Dubai, broke into pieces after it overshot the table-top runway 10 and fell into a valley 35 feet below, leaving 18 people including both the pilots dead.
"It is foolish to land with a tailwind on a wet runway...This is what I have been pointing out for years. I said in 2011 that landing with a tailwind in rain on runway 10 will result in an accident one day," leading expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan told PTI.
Ranganathan was a member of the operations group of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Committee (CASAC) in 2011. He has been a part of various other safety committees of aviation regulator DGCA.
As the investigators begin probe into the accident, another aviation expert referred to the "widely recognised Swiss Cheese" model while talking about possible reasons for the crash that included breaking apart of the plane's fuselage.
"Any aeroplane accident that happens is never dependent on a single factor. Top air accident investigation teams across the world believe in the Swiss Cheese model. It says that only when the holes of all the slices of Swiss cheese get aligned, then only an accident happens," the expert said on condition of anonymity.
"It is just a metaphor. The Swiss cheese has lot of holes. If you put slices of Swiss cheese in a string and spin them, there will be one in a million times that all the holes would be aligned. That will be a precursor to an accident," he explained.
The expert said the reasons for the crash could include environmental factor, human factor, technical factor, health of the plane, administrative factor and external factor like what the air traffic controller is telling the pilots.
He said a sudden gust of wind leading to a wrong decision by the pilots, condition of the aircraft, wrong signalling by the instrument landing system or pure human error could be some of the reasons for the crash.
"It can be a multiple reasons. We cannot speculate. Wind speed could be a reason. When you are at low speed, you are susceptible to impact of the wind. One gust of wind can play havoc," he explained.
12/08/20 News Minute
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