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Pilot landed beyond touchdown zone: Probe report on Kozhikode crash

Kozhikode: Final investigations into the Air India Express crash that occurred in Kozhikode in 2020 in which 21 people were killed concluded that the pilots of the aircraft had probably violated the Standard Operating Procedure while landing. It was also noted in the report by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) that systemic failures contributed to the accident.

‘The probable cause of the accident was the non-adherence to SOP by the PF (Pilot Flying), wherein, he continued an unstabilised approach and landed beyond the touchdown zone, half way down the runway, in spite of ‘Go Around’ call by PM (Pilot Monitoring) which warranted a mandatory ‘Go Around’ and the failure of the PM to take over controls and execute a ‘Go Around’,’ the report noted.

On August 7, 2020, an Air India Express Boeing 737 traveling home from Dubai with Indians stranded during the Covid-19 pandemic overshot the runway in heavy rain, skidded off the tabletop runway and crashed nose-first into the ground. The flight carried 190 passengers and nine crew members. 21 people were killed, making it the country’s deadliest commercial aviation disaster in a decade. In 2010, another Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot Mangaluru’s table-top runway. It slid down a hill and killed 158 people. ‘A large number of similar accidents/incidents that have continued to take place, more so in AIXL (Air India Express Ltd), reinforce existing systemic failures within the aviation sector. These usually occur due to prevailing safety culture that give rise to errors, mistakes and violation of routine tasks performed by people operating within the system,’ the report said.

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According to the report, the pilot (in command) was guided by a ‘misplaced motivation to land back at Kozhikode to operate next day morning flight AXB 1373.’ Furthermore, the report noted that low visibility and suboptimal windshield wiper performance during rain could lead to errors in distance perception and depth perception due to visual illusions. ‘The AIXL pilot training program lacked effectiveness and did not impart the requisite skills for performance enhancement,’ it said.

The AAIB appointed a team of five investigators to lead the probe in August last year.


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