Sunday, September 27, 2020

Over 5K flights landed in Calicut after friction test

Mumbai: Three weeks before the Air India Express aircraft crashed on landing in Calicut airport, the civil aviation regulator had carried out an audit of the airport, which found that its runway surface was not friction-tested in over seven months when it should have been tested once every quarter.

The said information was shared by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in response to an RTI query sent by an activist, post the crash. 

After the December friction test, over 5,100 flights landed in Calicut between January and July end, according to AAI data.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) audit also found that the AAI-run Calicut airport did not have rescue equipment like prying tool, oscillating saw, and BA spare mask, implying that it was ill-equipped to handle an emergency.

The audit found the “runway friction test is overdue” as it was last carried out on December 30, 2019. After the audit on July 15, AAI sent an “Action Taken report” to DGCA on August 6, stating that the friction tester equipment will reach Calicut Airport on August 7. That was the very day the ill-fated Air India Express Boeing 737 aircraft sped off the table-top Calicut airport runway.

It dropped into a gorge, the fuselage broke into three, killing 19 people. The breaking action afforded by the runway surface on that rainy evening, is one of the factors the investigators will look into.

27/09/20 Manju V/Times of India

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