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Air India 737 overshoots runway, breaks apart trying to land

Details on casualties not immediately available.
Image: Bloomberg

An Air India Express plane carrying 191 passengers and crew overshot the runway attempting to land at a southern Indian airport, coming to rest in a nearby valley and breaking in two.

The Boeing Co 737 flight operated by Air India’s overseas, low-cost unit originated in Dubai, Arun Kumar, the head of India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, said by phone.

Flight 1344 was scheduled to land in Kozhikode, in the southern state of Kerala, at 7:41 p.m. local time. According to a playback on flight-tracking website FlightRadar24, the plane circled the airport several times before attempting to land.

Rescue personnel were on the scene and survivors were being taken to the hospital for treatment, the DGCA said. No fire was reported. Further details on casualties weren’t immediately available.

“We regret that there has been an incident regarding our aircraft,” Air India Express said in a statement. Help centres were being set up in Sharjah and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Aviation regulators in the UAE had no immediate comment.

The plane was carrying 191 people, including 10 babies and 7 crew, the DGCA said.

The so-called table-top airport is located on a hill, and several international airlines had stopped flying bigger aircraft including Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets into Kozhikode due to safety issues over the length on the runway.

The Hindu newspaper reported in 2018 that authorities ignored a proposal to install a deceleration system.

The last fatal plane crash in India was in 2010, when an Air India Express Boeing Co. plane overshot the runway at Mangalore — also a table top — and burst into flames, killing 158 people. That was the first fatal crash of a passenger aircraft in India in a decade.

Common accidents

While not as deadly as some types of crashes, accidents during landing are among the most common, according to statistics compiled by Boeing.

Almost half of all fatal crashes from 2009 through 2018 occurred during final approach and landing, according to Boeing.

Such accidents have mostly occurred as a result of actions by pilots, such as touching down too far along a runway, approaching at higher speeds or failing to properly slow a plane, according to accident reports.

Weather can sometimes play a role, such as when runways are wet and braking is less effective. However, standard flight procedures are designed to take weather into account, so landings are only permitted when conditions are safe.

© 2020 Bloomberg

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