Less than a week after the mishap involving an Air India Express aircraft at Kozhikode that killed 18 people, including two pilots, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has temporarily suspended operations of wide-bodied aircraft at the airport for the duration of the monsoon season.
“As a matter of abundant caution, we have decided to divert them (wide-bodied aircraft) to neighboring airports during the monsoon,” a senior DGCA official told The Indian Express.
Currently, while scheduled international operations — that mainly see operations of wide-bodied airliners — are suspended due to Covid-19, special repatriation flights are being operated by both Indian and foreign carriers. It is mainly airlines from west Asia that are flying the larger dual-aisle planes to Kozhikode.
Shortly after the accident in Mangalore back in 2010 that killed 158 people, the authorities had suspended operations of wide-bodied planes from table-top airports that did not meet certain runway specifications, including Kozhikode. After a series of requests from the Kerala state government and local lawmakers, wide-bodied operations were resumed at Kozhikode in 2018 after extension of the runway end safety area’s length from 90 meter to 240 meter.
The length of the runway at Kozhikode airport has once again come under the scanner after the Air India Express incident. Notably, the ill-fated aircraft involved in the August 7 incident was a Boeing 737-800, which is a narrow-bodied plane.
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