Sunday, August 08, 2021

Draft report of probe into crash at Kozhikode Airport to be submitted next month

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) will submit in September its draft investigation report into the crash of an Air India Express aircraft at the Calicut International Airport (popularly known as Kozhikode airport) in August last year. It has been more than a year since a Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Dubai carrying 190 people as part of the Vande Bharat Mission skidded off the runway and fell into a valley 35 feet below the tarmac, killing 18 people including the pilot and the co-pilot. The aircraft had broken into two portions while landing at the table-top runway amid heavy rains. A total of 114 passengers had got injured in the accident.

The AAIB missed two deadlines so far and had received flak for not submitting the report as one year has passed since the accident. “The report requires lots of investigation. It got delayed because of restrictions imposed due to the COVID pandemic,” an official with the DGCA told THE WEEK. “It is in the final stages and will be submitted within a month,” he said. The report will be submitted to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

“A detailed technical probe is needed to find out the exact reasons why the tragedy happened. There could be multiple reasons. But regardless of the findings, common sense is enough to realise that had there been a longer runway, this tragedy would not have happened,” former DGCA head E.K. Bharatbhushan had told THE WEEK.

The AAIB report is crucial also for resuming the operation of wide-bodied aircraft at the airport, which has been stopped since the accident.

Meanwhile, the compensation for the deceased and the injured is still being given. Though Air India Express had taken care of the treatment of the injured and had also paid Rs 10 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh to the injured as interim compensation, the complete payment is yet to take place.

“We have sent offer letters to all the families involved in the accident. While some have accepted, some have not as they are demanding more compensation,” said an official of Air India Express. According to him, Air India Express has disbursed Rs 65.5 lakh so far.

Some passengers had approached the High Court over the issue and the HC had directed AIE to pay the compensation at the earliest.

The state government had given Rs 10 lakh to the families of the deceased persons, while the Union government's offer for compensation is still pending.

09/08/21 Cithara Paul/The Week

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