Thursday, September 16, 2021

Jolted by Kozhikode crash, govt forms panel to study report, suggest remedies

New Delhi: Jolted by the Air India Express flight AXB1344 crash at the Kozhikode airport on August 7 last year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has set up a 9-member committee to study the recommendations by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) on the accident and suggest remedies.

In a first of sorts, the ministry has speedily put in place a review mechanism within a few days of the submission of the AAIB report on the accident. The AAIB report was submitted on August 17 and accepted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on August 20.

The committee will be headed by civil aviation secretary Pradeep Kumar Kharola and the heads of Air India, aviation watchdog DGCA, AAIB, Airports Authority of India (AAI), Indian Meteorological Department scientist, an expert on aerodromes Arun Rao (ex- International Civil Aviation Organization), Vineet Gulati, a member of Air Navigation Services and former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major will be its members.

The committee has been asked to look into the 43 recommendations in the AAIB report and submit its final report in 60 days. Till the time safe and feasible solutions are in place, operations of wide-bodied jets will remain on hold at the airport.

The first wide-body aircraft Airbus 330-300 belonging to the Saudi airlines from Jeddah had landed on December 5, 2018, after a long struggle by the Kerala state and local groups as the runway was shorter than prescribed levels.

The committee will look into the feasibility of operating wide-bodied aircraft and suggest measures to operate them.

The Kozhikode or Calicut air crash happened in August 2020. The tragedy struck the Air India Express limited Boeing 737-8HG with call sign VT-AXH, which was operating a repatriation flight under Vande Bharat Mission for people who had been stranded due to the Covid 19 pandemic in Dubai. While 165 were injured, 19 passengers and two pilots died in the crash.

The 9-member committee has been asked to look into the slew of safety recommendations for the Air India Express Ltd, Airports Authority of India, DGCA, AAIB and IMD.

The AAIB report on the crash had recommended that the AIR INDIA EXPRESS LIMITED in view of the failure of its pilot training programme needed to improve Simulator Training, training in realistic situations, promote assertiveness of the First Officer to take-over control and initiate a go-around on an unstabilised approach when Pilot In Command fails to respond (one of the key issues identified as the cause behind the crash).

The airline was also asked to improve pilots’ skill in tailwind landing on a wet runway, accurate aircraft performance calculations and better monitoring of data recorders.

The airline was also asked to ensure better availability of crew at all bases, consider the quantum of flights originating from respective bases and accordingly assign them as ‘home base’, especially for the captains.

The report had complained that the AIXL did not have an independent medical department and the operator was asked to employ Aviation/Aerospace Medicine Specialists in accordance with DGCA General Advisory.

16/09/21 Rahul Shrivastava/India Today

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