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.

Boeing risk assessment had predicted 15 B737 Max accidents & 2900 deaths, was it acceptable to the DGCA?


The final committee report prepared by the USA committee on transport and infrastructure has carried out a comprehensive study on the design development and certification of the Boeing 737 Max based on the facts & data when it was certified to fly for the first time. There were two tragic accidents which followed , in quick succession which everyone will remember, the Lion Air and the Ethiopian airways. The B737 Max fleet was grounded worldwide.

There are a number of startling yet expected conclusions that the report draws but there is one which no one must ignore.

"In December 2018, the FAA conducted a risk assessment based on its Transport Aircraft Risk Assessment Methodology (TARAM) and estimated that without a fix to MCAS, during the lifetime of the 737 MAX fleet, there could potentially be 15 additional fatal crashes resulting in over 2,900 deaths." Read the full report here..

Slide 1

The obvious question, why weren't the aircrafts grounded?

The Boeing officials said that they were unaware of it, knew there was such a process, but didn’t know they had evaluated this plane and this system. But this analysis says that—this is post-Lion Air—that in the lifetime of these aircraft, in operation, they predicted there would be a potential of 15 fatal crashes. 

Boeing knew if a pilot didn’t react to the unanticipated MCAS activation within 10 seconds, the result could be catastrophic.

Slide 2

Data driven process

We have seen it with the Airbus A320 Neo engine trouble. The regulator refused to disclose if any kind of risk assessment was carried out by the operator or the regulator. Supposedly, informed decisions were taken by the regulator to facilitate the operations of the NEO aircraft and minimise disruption of schedules for the operator. Data driven monte-carlo assessment was not carried out. Safety therefore remains perceptional in nature. Ignorance remains a bliss for the regulator.

The fact that there was a TARAM report on the Boeing 737 Max cannot be ignored. The question which arises is that the regulator looked the other way when pointed questions needed to be asked and risk assessment carried out. A change management process under the Safety Management System will ask such questions in due course if the systems are implemented with an intent to enhance safety.

Ungrounding of the B 737 Max

The Boeing 737 Max airworthiness directive has been approved by the FAA and it now rests on the individual regulators to independently assess the airworthiness and training aspects to deem her safe for flight. Will the regulators accept the FAA assessment of the B 737 Max as they have been doing or make some cosmetic changes to the FAA AD in order to expedite the ungrounding and oblige the airlines in waiting.

Where does the public stand in the whole process?

The traveling public is the main stakeholder and they need to be a part of the process. Unfortunately, the assessment is worded in a rather technical manner thereby making the public disinterested. Safety therefore remains a rather intangible subject. Safety is seen around but when looked up to help, fails to hold the weight of the structure.


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