Air India Express, the low-cost arm of Air India, last night had an unfortunate accident when an aircraft arriving from Dubai (DXB) to Calicut (CCJ), operating a Vande Bharat repatriation flight, overshot the runway while landing, and split up into two as it did so. In the Air India Express crash at Kozhikode (new name of Calicut), at least 17 people are confirmed to have lost their lives.
The Boeing 737, registered as VT-AXH and operating as Flight 1344 from Dubai, stopped in a valley about 35 feet below near the tabletop airport of Kozhikode, India after landing on Runway 10, and split up in the front in two parts. There were torrential rains in Kozhikode, and the aircraft did a go-around many a time before making the landing. Fortunately, the plane did not catch fire upon impact.
The flight was a repatriation flight, bringing back home workers who were repatriating back to India after perhaps losing their jobs due to the CoVid-19 pandemic, or visiting friends and family. Regular scheduled flights are not allowed into India currently given the pandemic. The plane had 174 passengers, 10 infants, 2 pilots and four cabin crew on board.
IX1344 touchdown at about 7:42 PM IST in the evening. The plane, as per flight data available on FR24, first tried to land in the opposing direction (against the wind, per usual practice), before the go-arounds and then landing in the wind direction. Calicut Airport is a “tabletop airport”, which roughly means it is on a hill and has short buffer space to over-run on both ends. Winds were at 260 degrees and tailwinds of 12 knots.
Two captains, one of them an ex-IAF pilot were at the helm of the plane. Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe, who retired from the Indian Air Force in 2003 was the pilot in charge on the plane.
As per a statement released by Air India Express,
AIR INDIA EXPRESS LTD regrets to confirmn that its flight IX-1344 from DX8 to CCJ was involved in an accident on the 7th of August, 2020 at Calicut. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the passengers and crew and their families.
Further to our Press Release, we would like to inform that as of now there are 17 confirmed deceased including two pilots. The four cabin crew members are confirm. safe. Emergency Response team members as well as Special Assistance Team mernbers (Angels of Air India) have been pressed into service from Cochin, Mumbai and Delhi to render all possible assistance to the passengers as well as to the family members.
A special relief flight has been arranged from Mumbai and Delhi for rendering hurnanitarian assistance to all the passengers and the farnily members. AIR INDIA EXPRESS LTD has established a passenger information centre, and a toll-fr. number has been rnade available for family or friends of those who may have been on board flight IX-1344. The toll-free number is 1800 2222 71. For those calling frorn outside, please call international country code.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those deceased.