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.

Privacy laws missing, there is a need to regulate the Drones hovering overhead


The Civil Aviation Ministry has vowed to keep up with the developments in the unmanned air systems or drones but unfortunately suffers from myopic vision. The projects are driven not for public welfare but to foster business or personal interests of a few. 

Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2017
In the name of creating a roadmap, a cut ,copy ,paste document has been put out in the public domain for comments. The National Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)Traffic Management Policy has been released by the Civil Aviation Ministry. 

Public participation
The concept of public participation is missing in the document. The proposed role of the general public is limited to availability of data on a need to know basis to report a UAS not complying regulations or breaching their privacy.

Privacy rules
India does not have explicit rules governing personal privacy. Personal data is protected through indirect safeguards developed by the courts under common law, principles of equity and the law of breach of confidence. In a landmark judgment delivered in August 2017 (Justice K.S Puttaswami & another Vs. Union of India), the Supreme Court of India has recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution as a part of the right to “life” and “personal liberty”. 
Fundamental rights are enforceable only against the state and instrumentalities of the state and the Supreme Court in the same judgment recognised that enforcing the right to privacy against private entities may require legislative intervention.

USA Drone Privacy Law
This bill amends the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to direct the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish procedures to ensure that the integration of unmanned aircraft (drone) systems into the national airspace system is done in compliance with privacy principles. Such procedures shall not apply to a drone system operated for news-gathering activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
DOT may not approve, issue, or award any certificate, license, or other grant of authority to operate a drone system in the national airspace system unless the pertinent application includes a data collection statement that provides reasonable assurance that the applicant will operate the drone in accordance with privacy principles. The same requirement shall apply to any drone system to be operated by a law enforcement agency, except that the application shall include a data minimization statement, instead of a data collection statement, that provides the same assurance.

Privacy remains the critical component that will govern the use of UAS aka drones in India airspace, be it over populated areas or otherwise. There is a need to implement safety and privacy laws prior to giving in to the pressures from lobbies who have business interests first.


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