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

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  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

Kozhikode runway friction delayed as top policy makers certify the runway safe for operations

The runway friction test is mandated by the DGCA to be carried out periodically for safe flight operations. 

A medium to big aircraft typically lands at a speed of 220-260 kmph. The primary means of stopping the aircraft is with the wheel brakes like any other vehicle. Since the runway length is limited,it is therefore important that the runway is not slippery & the wheels have a good grip on the runway by generating friction between the two surfaces.Lesser friction would mean lesser braking response. Factors that affect braking are the condition of the runway, dry/wet & rubber deposits. Each landing of the aircraft leaves behind about 700 gms of rubber from the tires due to sudden wheel spin up and this accumulates over a period of time depending on how busy the airport is.

 If the rubber is not removed periodically, the grains of the runway surface which provide the grip get filled with the rubber and they become smooth. Adding to this if there is even a film of water few millimeter deep, the aircraft is likely to slip & braking is severely impacted. If a pilot is not provided this critical information then they calculate their landing distance requirements based on the assumption that the rubber deposit & the film of water is below the danger levels. This is the reason why it is mandated to check the runway friction levels and remove rubber deposits periodically.  

RESA
RESA at Kozhikode

 

The purpose of providing RESA is to minimise damage to an aircraft undershooting & overrunning the runway. The RESA needs to be kept cleared. Vegetation on the RESA will make it slippery especially when it is raining. While it has been pointed out to the airport operator on previous occasions that the maintenance of the RESA is not as per standards, a surveillance carried out remotely ought to have checked the condition of the RESA by seeking photographic evidence. The vegetation growth as seen from the images is well developed and points out at failure of the air operators safety management system & the DGCA's oversight. On table top runways where the consequences of an overrun are severe, the checks have to be more regular and strict. The hazard identification and risk management is documented in the manuals but not implemented and enforced.

Read the blog on why investigators must focus on aquaplaning


The elevation profile will give a good picture of the undulations on the runway where more than 3mm depression will make the runway accumulate water and make it slippery.

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