An Air India Express aircraft (AIX-1344), from Dubai, overshot, and fell 50 meters off the end of the tabletop runway at (Karipur) International airport in Kerala. The Boeing 737 jet, with 184 passengers and four crew members apart from two pilots on board, was a part of India’s “Vande Bharat” repatriation mission to bring back Indians who were stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As per the latest reports, 19 people, including former Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilot Captain DV Sathe and his co-pilot, have died while the injured are being treated at the MIMS hospital and Baby Memorial Hospital in Calicut. All those onboards have suffered injuries. Officials have said, at least 170 including cabin crew have been rescued.
On Friday around 7:40 PM, an Air India Express Boeing 737 skidded off the runway and crashed nose-first into the groundbreaking the plane into two. Chief of directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA), Arun Kumar said, “It was a Dubai to Kozhikode Air India Express flight. It made an over-speeding landing, overshot the runway, and fell into a valley. The aircraft has broken into two parts, but it is being reported that it has not caught fire, which increases the chances of rescue. Rescue teams are on spot and we are yet to get final figures on casualties.”
Air India Express also issued a statement saying, "We regret that there has been an incident regarding our aircraft VT GHK, operating IX 1344 DXB CCJ. Due to crash landing of the flight, it may affect the network, but Vande Bharat Mission continues."
According to a playback on flight-tracking website FlightRadar24, the plane circled the airport twice before attempting to land. In its second instance, it aborted the attempt with 2,000 feet to go before the crash landing.
Experts have said that several international airlines had stopped flying bigger aircraft into Kozhikode due to safety issues. Mohan Ranganathan, a former instructor pilot of Boeing 737 said that the Calicut runway is very risky for landing during rains due to limited space at the ends of the runway. There have been several intimations to the authorities regarding the risk, but no actions were taken to date.
A helpline (0565463903) has been set up by the Kerala government for families of passengers of AIX-1344. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed that the evacuation process is complete.