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.

In Public's Interest, Govt. must release Air India Express accident preliminary report



    The public has an overarching interest in safety data or safety information(ICAO). The Air India Express aircraft VT-AXH accident at Kozhikode was unfortunate and a matter of public concern. The regulator made a public statement that in a few weeks, information on the circumstances leading to the accident would be released. It is over 30 days and the public is still being kept in the dark. 

The reason this routine information is being withheld by the investigating authorities is quite intriguing since transparency promotes safety culture and awareness of the threats. Is it their lack of understanding of the investigation concepts or the usual posturing on the high horse?

The regulation does not mandate the release of the preliminary report but at the same time does not restrict or recommend withholding the report from public disclosure.

Objective of Investigation

    The sole objective of an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 13 investigation is to generate safety data and information to aid with the prevention of future and similar accidents or incidents. Annex 13 investigations do not concern themselves in any way with the apportioning of blame or liability.

    The State conducting the investigation of an accident or incident is expected to produce a Preliminary Report within 30 days of the accident. This Preliminary Report may be public or confidential at the discretion of the State in charge. A publicly available Final Report is encouraged to be produced by the State in charge of the investigation within 12 months of the accident.

Preliminary Report 

    The Preliminary report is an ad-interim report that contains additional information that was missing or not available at the time of sending the notification. The report includes a descriptive of the information on the accident that is available till the date of preparation of the preliminary report.

Basic factual and circumstantial information on an accident is usually available within the first two to four weeks of the investigation.

Accidents and Incidents-Notification and Reports 

    The ICAO Accident and Incident Data Reporting(ADREP)system collects data from States in order to enhance safety through analysis either through validation of known safety issues or identification of emerging safety trends leading to recommendations for accident prevention purposes. There are four different stages at which information is sent to ICAO after an occurrence. These are:


 Preliminary (ADREP) report; 

Final report; and

Data (ADREP) report.   

Public Disclosure 

     The public’s interest is in openness, transparency and accountability so that it has a general awareness of the safety of the system and can be assured that everything necessary to address safety is being done.

    Specific individuals or interest groups may also have an interest in safety data or safety information for reasons other than those directly related to safety. Disclosure may occur voluntarily, as a result of a request for information to the government or through the processes of a judicial proceeding. Whether or not it is appropriate to disclose any safety data or safety information publicly depends on the nature of the safety data and safety information. Such determination is the domain of the competent authority.    

    If safety data or safety information is disclosed publicly, it is not usually possible to limit how the information would be used. Certainly, openness and transparency should be encouraged but, at the same time, the rights and legitimate expectations of those involved in reporting and analysing the safety data and safety information, and the need to protect them from inappropriate damage to their interests or reputation, must be taken into account.

Public disclosure
ICAO Document


Release of the preliminary report

A thorough investigation usually takes about 12 months or more. The public disclosure of preliminary report will not only bring a possible closure to some of those closely associated with the accident but will enhance safety by presenting data to the flight crew. Knowledge improved the general awareness of threats and risks associated with a particular operation. One of the important aspects of a generative safety culture is the reporting culture. If people have faith,trust in the system and get timely feedback, they will step up their reporting thereby building a more robust, resilient system.

Countries like Indonesia, Ethiopia,Pakistan have released preliminary reports to the public and the information contained in the report has generated tremendous public response and assured the rest that a comprehensive final report will benefit all the stakeholders.

The source of the information is from ICAO documents including ICAO Annex 13, DOC9756 Part IV, DOC9859



Popular posts from this blog

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

IndiGo flight followed a similar flight pattern and landed safely before the ill-fated Air India Express crashed

Much defended, Kozhikode Runway RESA & Runway Strip do not meet ICAO standards