The Calicut International Airport’s Advisory Committee has requested the Ministry of Civil Aviation to pace up the process to resume wide-body aircraft operations, suspended since the Air India Express flight accident held at the airport on August 7, 2020. The accident had nothing to do with the airport’s infrastructure, according to committee head M.P. Abdussamad Samadani, Member of Parliament.
Samadani, who represents the Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency of Kerala, also said that the delay in resuming the services of wide-bodied aircraft at Calicut airport is causing hardship to passengers, especially for the non-resident Indians travelling abroad. The residents from the Malappuram district of Kerala constitute a massive share of expats from the state. They contribute immensely to the airport, MP added.
Air India Express Flight Crash at Calicut Airport
On August 7, 2020, the crash involving a Boeing 737-800 Air India Express flight 1344, claimed the lives of 21 people, including the pilot and co-pilot, and left at least 100 passengers injured. There were 184 passengers besides six crew onboard of the Boeing aircraft. The narrow-body plane overshot the runway and plunged into a 35-metre valley. According to preliminary investigation reports, a combination of factors such as torrential rains caused the accident.
Probe by DGCA and Ministry of Civil Aviation
In December 2021, a team from India’s civil aviation authority, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), conducted an assessment of the airport facilities, including the safety measures installed at the airport. The Ministry of Civil Aviation had authorized five members from Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) to probe Air India Express crash at Calicut airport. The report from AAIB, released in September 2021, recommended the resumption of wide-bodied aircraft operations at Calicut airport after installing a transmissometer for Runway Visual Range (RVR) system. RVR system can significantly enhance the visibility reporting, leading to better awareness for the pilots.
Another recommendation was regarding the runway length, where the report suggested reconstructing the Runway End Safety Area (RESA) after reducing the length of the tabletop runway. However, if RESA was increased by 240 metres on both sides, the runway length would be reduced to 2,540m, according to MP Samadani. The existing runway length of Calicut airport is 2,700 meters.
The next task of the Advisory Committee of the airport would be to call a meeting of AAI officials and representatives of airline companies for starting domestic services. To meet the demands, Karipur airport will require more direct flights providing services to destinations such as Mumbai and Delhi, besides Trivandrum, the state’s capital city.