Black Boxes Recovered From Crashed Air India Express Plane in Kerala as Death Toll Rises to 19
The black boxes from the Air India Express plane that crash-landed at the Karipur airport near Kozhikode on Friday evening, killing 19 people, have been recovered as a probe team landed in Kerala on Saturday.
A DGCA official said that the Digital Flight Data Recorder has been recovered from the aircraft, while the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) was retrieved after the floorboard was cut of the plane that broke into two pieces after it skidded off a tabletop runway amid heavy rain.
The recorders store crucial information about the plane’s altitude, position and speed, as well as records of conversations between the pilots, and will be critical to understand what happened to flight IX-1344. Officials said they will be brought to Delhi for further investigation.
Investigating officials from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), top officials of Air India and Air India Express reached Kozhikode from New Delhi early on Saturday, said Air India Express.
At least 18 people were killed and 172 injured after Air India Express passenger plane repatriating Indians stranded by the COVID-19 pandemic overshot the runway in heavy rain near Kozhikode on Friday.
The Boeing-737 flight from Dubai to Calicut International Airport was carrying 190 passengers and crew, the civil aviation ministry said in a statement. Among them were 10 infants.
The plane’s pilot and the co-pilot were killed in the accident, K Gopalakrishnan, chief of the Malappuram district in Kerala, said. “All passengers have been admitted to various hospitals, and they are also being tested for COVID-19,” Gopalakrishnan said, adding autopsy of the bodies would be carried out according to the COVID-19 protocol.
“Because of the weather conditions, he (the pilot) could not land the first time, so he did a turnaround and tried to approach it from a different direction,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told national broadcaster DD News, adding that only an investigation would reveal the cause of the crash.
He said it appears the crash was caused as the plane skidded off the runway. Tabletop runways are known for being difficult to land even for the best of the commercial pilots. It is essentially a runway built over a hill by levelling the surface. These high altitude runways have a steep drop either on one side or both sides.