Slippery runway & more so the safety area at Kozhikode may be a leading cause of the Air India Express crash

RESA  The entire state machinery is on overdrive to defend the Calicut Airport stating that it was completely safe for flight operations. There are two significant points to focus on while determining the causes of the accident.  1. Previous safety audits have pointed to vegetation on the runway end safety area (RESA). 2. The rubber deposits at the ends of the runway may have been a contributory cause of the accident. Comparison A comparison of the runway friction values indicates a possibility of higher rubber deposits or poor runway friction levels at both ends of the runways. A friction level below 0.47 requires maintenance action as per the Indian Aeronautical Information Publication. The combination of runway friction and vegetation on the RESA may have been a significant factor that may have caused the Air India Express 1344 runway overrun at Kozhikode on 7th Aug 2020. Must note that the runway has a pronounced crown close to the middle and drops more than 25 feet on either side.

Air India B-787 fuel leak, should the crew start APU and increase risk?

fuel leak
Fuel Leak

What happened?

On 21st August 2017, M/s Air India Ltd Boeing 787-800 aircraft VT-ANE was involved in fuel leak incident during taxi to the runway while operating flight AI - 131 (Mumbai to London). Aircraft started taxiing and after about 02 minutes in the taxi to the Runway 27, fuel imbalance message was displayed to the crew. The crew of M/s Oman Air flight OMA-202, which was taxiing behind AI-131, observed the fuel coming out from the RH wing and reported same to the air traffic controller (ATC) informed AI about the fuel leak immediately. Aircraft stopped on taxiway and crew switched off both the engines. Approximately 1850 Kg of fuel was leaked from the aircraft. No human injury was reported in the incident.

Why did happen?

The exact cause of the fuel leak could not be ascertained. However, it is suspected that the presence of debris, in the Right main tank boost pump outlet check valve, has contributed to the fuel leak.

Should the APU have been started?

The fuel leak from the wing exposes the aircraft to the risk of a fire. The heavy flow of fuel from the wing tanks need a source of ignition and more than the fuel, its the fuel vapours that are susceptible to catching fire. In this scenario, there is a need to look at the fire triangle.

Image result for fire triangle
Fire triangle

In the fire triangle, there is no control over the 2 factors, fuel & oxygen which in this scenario were in abundance. The third element of heat/ignition had to be eliminated. Logically, all engines should have been shut down as soon as possible.

The crew took almost 2min 30 sec to shut down the engines and in the process added another source of heat by starting the Auxillary Power Unit (APU). The APU is a small engine mounted at the tail section and used primarily for supplying air and electricity while the aircraft is on the ground with the engines switched OFF.

Point to ponder

Most airlines follow the procedure of removing all sources of heat and/or ignition. This would mean that all engines and the APU would need to be switched off in order to eliminate the risk.


  1. Thanks. Link is working now.


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