Last year, a fatal passenger plane disaster in southern India was caused by a pilot’s failure to observe operational standards, according to an inquiry by the civil aviation regulatory authority. 190 passengers and crew were on Air India Express Flight 1344, a Boeing 737 when it crash-landed at Kozhikode airport in Kerala state in August last year.
It missed the runway due to bad weather, went down a bank, and was destroyed with its fuselage shattered. Two pilots as well as 19 passengers were among those who lost their lives. One crew member was also badly hurt in addition to 75 other guests.
“The probable cause of the accident was the non-adherence to standard operating procedures (SOP) by the PF (pilot flying),” the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau under India’s civil aviation ministry said.
When PM (pilot monitoring) told the pilot to turn back, the pilot “continued an unstabilised approach and landed beyond the touchdown zone, halfway down the runway”. The pilot failed to take over the controls of the aircraft and conduct a “go around,” which aborts a landing approach. Before the disaster, the pilots had attempted to land twice in the strong winds and rain.
The report said that the pilot was “highly experienced”, the pilot of the jet had flown 36 trips “in and out of Kozhikode during the last one year prior to the accident”. “This experience probably resulted in complacency due to overconfidence that affected his decision making,” it said.
Critics voiced concerns about possibly hazardous circumstances at the airport even before the event. On a hill, Kozhikode Airport has a “table-top” runway that has a steep drop at one end, making it difficult to land. In 2010, an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 from Dubai to Mangalore veered off the runway and crashed, killing 158 passengers and crew.