5 airports in India have runways laid down, including Kozhikode in Kerala where a plane crashed


Plane crash in Kerala: 18 people, including pilots, were killed in the crash in Kozhikode.

New Delhi:

Built on high ground and usually having little space for last minute maneuvers, tabletop runways at airports sometimes pose challenges for pilots when landing their aircraft. And Air India Express planes have crashed at least twice on such runways in just over a decade.

At least five airports, including Kozhikode in Kerala where an Air India Express plane crashed on Friday, have table runways.

Table tracks are built on hilly or elevated terrain and there might also be low areas adjacent to these tracks or gorges towards the end.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman Arvind Singh said table runways are found at four airports it operates. They are in Kozhikode, Mangalore (Karnakata), Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) and Pakyong (Sikkim).

Lengpui Airport in Mizoram, which is with the state government, also has a table runway.

The Crown corporation AAI operates 137 aerodromes, including those through joint ventures.

A senior Air India pilot said automation might not help with table runways. There is also the issue of the optical illusion, where the runway may appear closer when it would actually be further away, he added.

The pilot also pointed out that there is not much buffer zone unlike normal runways.

There are table runways in different parts of the world and it is only when the runway length is less that problems can arise when aircraft land. In the case of Kozhikode Airport, the runway is around 9,000 feet, which is quite long, according to a senior regulator.

Table runways are present at some airports, both in northern and southern India, he added.

According to the manager, pilots are generally aware of these tracks and various restrictions.

In the report of the Court of Inquiry into the plane crash at Mangalore airport in May 2010, it was mentioned that there were three table airports in the country from which regular flights operate to Mangalore, Kozhikode and Lengpui.

“Due to the hilly terrain and space constraints, these airfields require additional skill and caution during flight operations. The risk of undershooting and overtaking, in particular, can lead to serious situations, as was the case. the case in this accident, “report had said.

He also said the runways on the table had a problem with access roads around the airfield, which might have to be used in the event of a plane crash.

Citing data from ICAO, the report also indicated that most accidents occurred during the landing and take-off phases, with a large number of runway overruns and planes flying over the overtaking zone.

Given the high dynamics of these aircraft, a downward slope in the overtaking zone can worsen the result. It is therefore recommended to bring down slopes like those that exist in Mangalore to the same level of the track surface. This must also be guaranteed at all table airports in the country, “the report said.

Regarding the Air India Express plane that crashed on Friday, AAI said it landed about 1,000 meters from the start of the Kozhikode airport runway before it broke in two. The Boeing 737-800 on landing overshot the runway and descended 35 feet on a slope. The pilot of the flight – IX-1344 – could not see the runway during the first landing attempt due to heavy rain.

An IAA spokesperson said runway 28 was in use and on the first attempt to land, the pilot could not see the runway and requested runway 10.

The pilot then steered the plane to runway 10 and came to the other side, according to an IAA official.

Quoting information from the air traffic controller (ATC), the spokesperson said the plane touched down near taxiway “C”, about 1,000 meters from the start of runway 10. La total length of the track is 2,700 meters. The spokesperson also said it was raining at the airfield and the visibility at the time of landing was 2,000 meters.


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