Air India Express Aircraft Escaped DISASTER Halting 20 Feet Away from a Deep Gorge
Mangaluru: The Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) at Kenjar is kind of a scary one for its table-top runway as the location is on a hilltop, which is preventing extension of the runway. The ‘table-top’ MIA is considered tricky for aircraft landings and takeoffs, particularly in the rainy season. The runway is on top of a hill and surrounded by deep gorges that are just 25-30 meters from the runway. There are tropical forests on the three sides of the mountain. Aviation experts say the airport leaves no room for error as it does not have an overshoot area, which means that if a pilot makes a mistake and lands too far down the runway, it could lead to a disaster.
Recalling the disastrous plane crash in one of the country’s worst aviation disaster, an Air India Express flight from Dubai to Mangaluru crashed while landing at the Mangalore airport in 22 May 2010. A Boeing 737-800, the aircraft, with 166 people on board, overshot the runway and crashed into the wooded valley before bursting into flames. The crash killed 158 people and left eight survivors. And on Sunday, 30 June 2019, an Air India Express flight – IX 814 with 183 passengers on board veered off the taxiway after landing at the Mangalore Airport and got stuck in the slushy mud. Luckily all passengers and crew members on board this flight were safe. The incident happened at around 5:40 pm after the aircraft landed at Mangaluru International Airport and was proceeding on the taxiway towards the terminal. Luckily, it was good news for the kith and kin of the passengers and also to the 189 passengers including six crew members, two children and 181 others who escaped death.
Sources reveal that the aircraft was reportedly moving at a higher speed and thus moved into the slushy muddy area instead of taking a right turn. The alert pilot who had immediately applied the brakes and halted the aircraft, saved the aircraft from plunging into a ditch, just 20 meters away, as per reports. It is learnt that the pilot communicating with the Air Traffic Control wanted to land the flight at 5:32 pm, but was unable to land- but on his second attempt, landed the aircraft at 5:42 pm. It is said that Air Traffic Control observed that the aircraft was moving at high speed when it went out of the runway. Tailwind and wet runway with inadequate braking action were cited as the reasons behind the incident even though a formal investigation would be conducted, the airlines said.
Recalling yet another accident which took place on 19 August 1981, an Indian Airlines aircraft crash-landed, and got stuck between three laterite stones. Even though the aircraft was moving forward after getting stuck, but was brought under control, saving the lives of passengers, including politician M Veerappa Moily who was among the passengers. Sources reveal 38 years ago, then Union Law Minister, M. Veerappa Moily, had a narrow escape at the Mangalore airport when an Avro aircraft that he was travelling in landed at the Mangalore airport with only 25 percent of the runway left. The pilot braked and the plane was stopped from plunging over a cliff into a 300 ft valley by three laterite rocks that were precariously positioned at the edge of the cliff. The aircraft engine caught fire, but fire engines doused the flames, and all passengers were rescued safely.
On this incident that took place on 30 June 2019, district minister-in-charge U T Khader has urged the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to sleuth into the incident and do a thorough investigation into the incident, and has also directed the concerned Airport officials to do a 100% check if all the facilities are perfect for flight operations.