Air India Express accident at Calicut was facilitated by the regulator, how?

  Air India Airbus Landing at Port Blair (Source Dr Puneet) Blaming the pilots alone for an accident is like addressing the symptom rather than the root cause. The root cause of the Calicut accident of IX1344 on 7th Aug 2020 is the poor safety culture prevalent in India and the ineffective regulatory oversight. This landing(YouTube video) can be categorized as a deliberate attempt to endanger the lives of passengers and crew. This is not the Calicut landing but a landing at another critical airport where most of the year the airport experiences tailwinds. Since the airport has a unidirectional runway ( landing from one direction only), the flight crew has no option but to land in tailwinds. The situation worsens during the monsoons when there is a tailwind and the runway is wet and braking action reduces. Action has not been taken either by the regulator or by the airline safety. Why? What is the role of the regulator? The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the regulatory

Etihad incident at Calicut,June'19, highlighted airport infrastructure issues. This could have been the wakeup call!

Etihad A320 Incident
Etihad June 2019

Two incidents that could have saved the Air India Express accident at Khozikode. Unfortunately, no one acted on the concerns raised by the GCAA investigators. Isn't it criminal negligence?


First SpiceJet Q400 runway excursion in rain, August 2017 and now on 20June2019, an Etihad Airways, Airbus A320-232, registrationA6-EIT, operated a scheduled passenger flight EY250, from Abu Dhabi International Airport, the United Arab Emirates,to Calicut International Airport, India

During the ILS approach to runway 28, the flight crew initiated a go-around due to heavy rain over the runway as reported by air traffic control (ATC). Approximately 16 minutes later, the flight crew initiated a second instrument landing system(ILS)approach to runway 28. 

On landing, the Aircraft touched down to the right of the runway centerline, and the right main landing gear then struck five runway edge lights. The Commander was able to steer the Aircraft to the centerline and continue the landing roll uneventfully.

Following the Incident, the Operator highlighted its concern to Calicut Airport Authority regarding the airport infrastructure limitations,which were identified as contributory to the Incident based on Operator’s internal review.

SpiceJet Aug 2017

Read the final report here 


 Excerpts of the Etihad Final Report

Instrument Landing System under question

The ILS at Kozhikode (Calicut) is known to the operators to give incorrect guidance during the approach. Therefore Etihad has a caution for pilots in their route guides.

Finding: There was a perturbation in the glide slope and localizer signals during both approaches at lower altitude, below 460 feet AAL.

Implication: The autopilot will chase the erroneous signals thereby destabilising the approach at a critical height. During low visibility at night and heavy rain, the workload of the pilot would increase exponentially. 

Finding: There was standing water on the runway during landing. 

Implication: The braking action would be poor and the pilot would become aware only after touchdown when it is too late to go-around.


Wind information
Head Wind turning to Tail Wind before landing

Wind information: As the Aircraft descended below170 feet AAL, the recorded wind information could be used to determine a trend.The wind trend information gave an indication that the headwind had changed to a slight tailwind. 

Implication: The tail wind will increase the distance required to stop the aircraft after landing. The standing water on the runway would further deteriorate the braking action.

Runway centerline lightsThe lack of runway centerline lighting

Implication: The DGCA regulations mandate installation of runway centerline lights at Kozhikode. The same was pointed out in the surveillance report but for reasons best known to the regulator,not complied with. A similar incident/accident at Cochin made the safety recommendation of installing runway centerline lights to enhance safety.

Read my earlier post on RESA at Kozhikode




  1. Yes all true. Also, I don't remember any touchdown zone lights at Calicut. You cannot assess that you are landing deep, and take early corrective action.

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  3. Airlines also need to do risk assessment of such runways. With so many negatives had they simply forbidden tailwind landings in rain the accident may not have happened. Express has very poor record. They had a fatal at Mangalore on 22/06/2010 , four days later on 24 June they would crashed in Arabian sea with clear skies if the front toilet wasn't occupied. The copilot wasn't able to reengage the tripped AP. Luckily captain came back and pulled the aircraft out of .9M dive. One year later another captain wanted to repeat Mangalore but copilot overpowered him. They have had excursions during taxi, takeoff and they have taken off through the wall at Trichi and merrily cruised at 37000ft as if nothing has happened till called back. It's simply criminal.


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