New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS): Heavy rains along with low visibility are being cited by the aviation industry experts as the key reasons that caused the horrific plane tragedy at the Kozhikode airport on Friday.
According to a senior Airports Authority of India official, factors related to inclement weather seem to have led the aircraft to land some 1,000 metres ahead of the safety margin.
A safety margin is the required runway length which is mandated for aircraft to land at airports like the one in Kozhikode.
However, the aircraft seems to have cleared the required ground-roll area and landed deep into the touchdown zone.
"We have to wait for the findings of the official investigation into the incident," the official said.
"As of now, we just know that heavy rains, low visibility and gusty wind conditions might have forced the aircraft to land some 1,000 metres ahead of the safety runway margin," the official added.
When contacted, AAI's official response to IANS was that the aircraft touched down near taxiway 'C' which is approximately 1,000 metres from the beginning of runway 10.
The total length of this runway is 2,700 metres or close to about 10,000 feet.
"It was raining over the airfield and reported visibility at the time of landing was 2000 meters and wind direction and speed was 270/08 (wind was gusting from 8 to 17 knots)," the AAI said in a statement.
"Runway 28 was in use and the pilot attempted first landing on runway 28 but after a missed approach, he requested for runway 10."
The AAI further pointed out that both the runways at Calicut (Kozhikode) are equipped with Instrument Landing System (ILS).
"The airport's safety services were pressed into action as per airport emergency plan for timely action," the statement said.
"As per the information received from the ATC, the aircraft touched down near taxiway 'C' which is approximately 1000 M from the beginning of runway 10," it added.
Senior aviators pointed out: "The aircraft could have been diverted. However, the airport in question is said to have rubber deposits on the runway. This makes the runway more prone to skid accidents. It seems that multiple factors were at play here."
On Friday, Kerala witnessed one of the worst air accidents, as an Air India Express flight returning from Dubai under the 'Vande Bharat' mission skidded off the runaway at the 'table top' airport in Kozhikode, leaving 18 persons dead, including both the pilots.
The Centre has said that a formal enquiry will be conducted into the incident by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB).
The AAIB was formed in 2012 as an independent accident probe committee under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The ill-fated AI Express aircraft skidded off the runway after landing on its second attempt amid heavy rains, plunging 35 feet into the valley below.