The civil aviation ministry has cited delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and granted a two-month extension to the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) to submit its draft final probe report on the August 8 Air India Express plane crash at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport. The report was due for submission in January, officials aware of the matter said.
“Due to COVID pandemic, there is a delay being experienced in the Test Reports of components, and an extension of two months has been granted for submission of the draft final report of Investigation into VT-AXH Accident,” said a civil aviation ministry order, a copy of which HT has seen.
The Air India Express Boeing-737 plane repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the pandemic overshot the runway in heavy rain, skidded off the table-top runway and broke into two parts after crashing nose-first into the ground.
The flight was carrying 190 passengers and crew. It was the deadliest commercial aviation disaster in the country in 10 years and claimed 20 lives. Another Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot Mangalore’s table-top runway in 2010. It slid down a hill and left 158 people dead.
AAIB director-general Aurobindo Handa appointed Captain S S Chahar, a former Directorate General of Civil Aviation-designated examiner for pilots of B737NG aircraft, as the investigator-in-charge and asked him to submit an inquiry report into the Kozhikode crash within five months.
Operations expert Ved Prakash, senior aircraft maintenance engineer (B737) Mukul Bhardwaj, Group Captain Y S Dahiya, aviation medicine expert, and Jasbir Singh Larhga, deputy director AAIB, are the other members of the probe team.
The AAIB is mandated to conduct aircraft accident investigations, submit preliminary reports and assist in setting up committees of inquiry in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation rules.