The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Tuesday banned the operation of wide-body aircraft at the Karipur International Airport in Kerala’s Kozhikode city, four days after an Air India plane overshot the airport’s runway, killing at least 18 people and injuring over 100 others, PTI reported.
Wide-body aircraft have a bigger fuel tank and a need a longer runway to take off and land. The length of Kozhikode airport’s table top runway is about 2,700 metres. Wide-body aircraft were allowed to operated from the airport in 2019.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation Chief Arun Kumar told The Times of India that the aviation watchdog has begun an audit at about 12 airports in metro cities and areas prone to heavy rainfall to look into factors such as runway friction and navigation. “Teams are being formed for this audit that is likely to be completed in a fortnight,” he said.
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An unidentified DGCA official said that the time period for which the ban will be imposed has not been decided yet. “We will wait for the monsoon to get over and as a means of abundant caution we are doing it,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Air India’s Boeing-737 flight from Dubai, repatriating Indians stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic, overshot the Kozhikode airport’s table-top runway amid heavy rain on Friday, tumbled into a valley and split into half. The plane was carrying 190 passengers and crew.
After the crash, the Centre faced criticism for ignoring safety concerns raised by aviation experts about the airport. A report on aviation safety submitted to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2011, revealed the runway at the airport was unsafe for flight operations due to inadequate safety area along the runway and at the end of it to stop planes from skidding off. Other experts said that the government did not act to address the safety concerns.
On Monday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri claimed that the airport was equipped with safety measures as per the International Civil Aviation Organization’s guidelines.