Air India completes disbursing interim compensation to Kozhikode crash passengers, kin of deceased
Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, on Tuesday, announced that Air India Express (AI) has completed disbursing interim compensation to all surviving flyers and the families of the deceased in the Kozhikode Air India Express plane crash which took place earlier this year. “AI Express has already paid the total compensation of Rs 4.25 crore,” Puri told a news agency.
On the rainy night of August 7 2020, the Dubai-Kozhikode AI Express flight IX-1344 carrying 190 passengers, skidded off the Karipur airport tabletop runway and fell into a gorge. On crashing, the Boeing 737 aircraft’s fuselage split into two sections. The crash killed 21 people including the pilot and co-pilot and left 100 passengers injured. The flight was part of the Vande Bharat Mission and was bringing back Indian nationals from Dubai to Kerala during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Aviation Minister had earlier announced Rs 10 lakh interim relief for families of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh for the injured.
The Karipur airport’s tabletop runway can handle Boeing 737 flights but there is very little margin for error. If the pilot doesn’t land a plane at a fixed spot on the runway, the plane can overshoot the runway and crash. The same thing happened with IX-1344. The plane reached the airport for landing on time. It was raining and it isn’t easy to land an aircraft in such conditions. The pilot tried landing the plane from one side of the runway (runway 28) but aborted it twice due to tailwind. The pilot circled the aircraft and tried landing it again but this time from the other end of the runway (runway 10). However, when the aircraft touched the runway, it landed 1km away from the point of landing. Despite trying to abort landing for the third time, the plane overshot the runway and fell into the gorge.
Some passengers managed to jump from the aircraft when the fuselage broke open. The plane crashed 3km from the airport terminal. One CISF officer, who witnessed the crash from the terminal, told news agencies that the plane did not just slide into the gorge but fell off the cliff. According to reports, the pilot and co-pilot had switched off the engines before the plane crashes, thus saving many lives on-board. Had they not done it, the plane could have caught fire, leading to a higher causality count. They earned everyone’s praise for their quick reaction but did not survive to hear it. The air crash investigation is still underway.
Nine years ago, a safety advisory committee constituted by the then Civil Aviation Ministry, issued a warning against Karipur Airport runway. The committee said that the runway is unsafe and should not be used for landing during wet conditions. The Kozhikode crash is quite similar to the Mangalore AI Express IX-812 crash which occurred a decade earlier. Out of 160 passengers, 158 died in what is termed as the worst aviation disaster in India.