The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Saturday said the black box or flight data recorders and voice recorder of the Air India Express flight that crashed at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport late on Friday were found.
Union minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri announced interim relief for families of victims, as well as those who have been critically injured and suffered minor injuries. Puri praised rescue efforts, saying “solidarity is being shown” during post-crash operations. Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced Rs 10 lakh compensation and said the medical expenses of those under treatment will be taken over by the state government.
At least 18 people, including two pilots, were killed and over 100 were injured when the Boeing-737 flight from Dubai, repatriating Indians stranded due to the Covid-19 pandemic, overshot the runway amid heavy rain. The plane was carrying 190 passengers and crew.
Meanwhile, an investigation team of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan inspected the site of the crash.
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Here are the top updates of the day:
9 pm: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh says the family of Captain Deepak V Sathe, who died in the crash, has expressed concerns about tabletop runway airports, reports PTI. They said the Civil Aviation Ministry should ensure that such incidents do not happen again,” he tells reporters.
8.15 pm: Russian President Vladimir Putin offers his condolences to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Kerala plane crash.
8.12 pm: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation chief Arun Kumar says the poor judgement of the pilots led to the Air India Express flight crash, reports News18. He adds that the runaway of Karipur airport is long enough for a safe landing.
5.33 pm: Ranganathan also warns that, according to him, the Jammu and Patna airports are also unsafe. “You will find another major accident either in Patna or Jammu airport,” he tells Hindustan Times. “Both of them are dangerous airfields and don’t have safety features.”
He adds that in Kozhikode, “There’s a drop of around 70 metres at the end of the runway... In the case of Mangalore it is about a 100 metres. There’s no escape for an aircraft if it overruns.”
5.31 pm: A noted civil aviation expert says conditions in the Kozhikode airport were not conducive to landing on Friday evening, reports Hindustan Times.
“It was not prudent to land at the KIA because of the downpour,” Captain Mohan Ranganathan tells the daily. “The KIA runway is not safe.”
In 2011, Ranganathan told the DGCA that the runway needed to be re-evaluated as it could be unsafe. In a report, he had said: “...It is a dangerous situation, especially in wet conditions.”
5.24 pm: Arvind Singh, chief of the Airports Authority of India, says “corrective action” will be taken after the inquiry report is completed, says Hindustan Times.
4.30 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says 18 people have lost their lives due to the plane crash and 149 are under treatment at various hospitals of Malappuram and Kozhikode districts, reports PTI. Out of the 18 who died, 14 are adults and four are children, he adds.
The chief minister adds that 23 people are in critical condition and 23 others have been discharged after being provided initial medical assistance.
3.30 pm: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih express grief over the plane crash in Kerala.
3.27 pm: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami offers condolences to the families of those who died in the Air India Express plane crash.
“I am deeply disheartened to hear the news of flight crash at Kozhikode,” says Palaniswami. “I pray to God to give enough strength to the families of victims and for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
3.20 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announces a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the relatives of those who died in the crash, ANI reports. “Apart from the solatium for the victims, the state government would bear the treatment expenses of all those injured in this unfortunate plane crash irrespective of the hospitals they are in,” Vijayan adds.
2.45 pm: Many reports are pointing out the similarities between Friday’s crash landing and the air crash in Mangaluru airport in May 2010. The airport in Mangaluru, like Kozhikode, has a tabletop runway – one on an incline or on top of a hill, while the sides and the ends of the runway drop into deep gorges.
The 2010 flight was an Air India Express plane from Dubai, carrying 160 passengers and six crew members. The toll from the crash was 158 – only eight passengers survived. There were no inclement conditions reported from the day of this air crash, and no alarm was sounded as the pilots landed the flight. However, the plane overshot the runway and fell down the end of it, ending up almost 200 to 300 metres below. The plane also caught fire.
Several analysts have said it is fortunate that the Air India Express flight that crashed in Kerala did not catch fire. The reason is most likely because the captain turned off the engine.
2.29 pm: The Centre says the Vande Bharat mission, run by Air India, will continue. The Air India Express flight that crashed yesterday was repatriating Indians as part of the same mission.
2.15 pm: He adds that though there were some problems with the Kozhikode runway in 2015, they were resolved and the airport received clearance in 2019. Air India’s jumbo jets have also landed at the airport.
2.12 pm: Airports Authority of India Chairperson Arvind Singh says the Air India Express flight on Friday could not land on the runway where it had to, after which, the pilots tried landing it on a different runway where the mishap happened, ANI reports. “We are monitoring situation and [the] airport will become operational soon,” he adds. “An alternative facility in Nagpur is also under progress.”
2.00 pm: The airline adds that the family of deceased co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar was also escorted from Delhi to Kozhikode, PTI reports.
1.51 pm: The family of pilot-in-command Deepak Sathe was escorted to Kozhikode hospital where his mortal remains were kept for post-mortem, PTI reports, quoting a statement from Air India Express.
1.45 pm: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation in July 2019 issued a notice to the Kozhikode airport director after finding “various critical safety lapses”, including on the runway and in the apron, reports PTI. The notice pointed to runway cracks, water stagnation and excess rubber deposits among other
1.40 pm: Air India changes the colour of its logo and cover on Twitter to black following the plane crash.
1.38 pm: The Kerala government says autopsies of all victims will be completed this afternoon, reports The New Indian Express.
1.26 pm: The Central Industrial Security Force tells its personnel to quarantine themselves after at least one passenger from the flight tested positive for the coronavirus, reports PTI. The passenger is deceased.
1.19 pm: Puri asserts that there should be no speculation surrounding the crash and the investigative report should be awaited.
1.18 pm: “I want to assure you that we will keep information coming in a real-time basis,” Puri tells the media.
1.16 pm: Puri says we have to be grateful for a minimal loss of life, after “an aircraft that slid down 35 feet into a gorge... with an impact like that”. He reiterates that any loss of life is tragic. Even one loss of life is tragic, he says.
1.08 pm: Puri says solidarity is being shown in operations after the air crash, which is vital.
1.06 pm: Puri says 23 passengers have been released from hospital.
1.05 pm: The co-pilot had more than 1,000 hours of flying experience, he says. Deepak Sathe landed at the Kozhikode airport 27 times before.
1.03 pm: Puri says the pilot in charge, Deepak Sathe, had 10,848 hours of flying and they “could not have had a more experienced” person landing the flight.
1.02 pm: Hardeep Singh Puri announces interim relief of Rs 10 lakh for each of those deceased, Rs 2 lakh for those who suffered critical injuries, and Rs 50,000 for those who had minor injuries.
1.01 pm: Puri also adds that it is “fortunate” the plane did not catch fire.
1 pm: The aviation minister in a press conference says “preventive action taken has minimised the loss of life”, and says emergency operations kicked in immediately after the aircraft crash-landed.
12.49 pm: Union minister V Muraleedharan, who is also at the site of the crash, lauds the deceased captain of the flight Deepak Sathe, reports News18. He says Sathe switched off the flight’s engine, which is probably why the aircraft did not burst into flames. His action saved dozens of lives.
12.45 pm: Union Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri is at the sight of the crash. He says he will meet senior civil aviation officials and professionals, and confirms that the black box and voice recorder of the flight were both recovered.
12.41 pm: The Kerala government says it will test all those involved in rescue operations for the coronavirus.
12.36 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan praises the rescue efforts of workers as well as local people yesterday and today. “They braved bad weather and COVID fears to rescue their fellow beings,” he tweets. “The long queues of people who wanted to donate blood was just one example.” He adds that humanity is the bedrock of society.
12.10 pm: The wreckage of the Air India Express aircraft at Kozhikode.
12.09 am: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan arrives at Kozhikode airport, ANI reports.
12.06 pm: An Air India special assistance team has reached Kerala to coordinate relief and counselling for families members on board the aircraft, NDTV reports. The airline in a statement says that Air India Chairperson and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal, and Air India Express Chief Executive Officer K Shyam Sundar have already reached Kozhikode.
12.03 pm: People gather to watch the wreckage of the Air India Express flight at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala.
11.59 am: One of the 18 passengers, who died in the plane crash, has tested positive for Covid-19, Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel says, according to PTI.
11.56 am: Malappuram Collector K Gopalakrishnan says 180 passengers and 6 crew members were on board the flight, ANI reports. Of these, 149 injured passengers admitted to hospitals in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts, he says, adding that 22 are in a critical condition, while another 22 were discharged after first aid.
11.51 am: Union minister Muraleedharan inspects the site of the crash at the Kozhikode airport, reports ANI.
11.51 am: Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan says Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri will reach the site of the crash by Saturday noon, ANI reports. “I have seen debris, the aircraft is broken into two pieces,” he adds. “Inspection is being done. Some part of aircraft was torn apart during rescue operation. [The] DGCA has announced enquiry.”
11.47 am: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Civil Aviation ministry’s senior officials, Airports Authority of India and Air Navigation Service members will hold a meeting in Delhi over the crash landing of the Air India Express flight at Kozhikode on Friday, The Indian Express reports.
11.47 am: An official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation tells ANI that the Digital Flight Data Recorder, or the black box of the Air India Express flight has been recovered. The black box stores crucial information about a plane’s altitude, position and speed, as well as records of conversations between the pilots.