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Puri questions Cong MPs' tweets on Kozhikode plane mishap

August 10, 2020 18:56 IST

The Kozhikode airport is equipped with runway safety as per the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization, said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday while questioning various tweets by Congress MPs on the plane crash in which 18 people were killed.

After the accident on Friday, Virudhunagar MP Manickam Tagore, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor alleged on Twitter that there were safety lapses on the part of the civil aviation ministry.


"There was some excited tweeting by few members of Congress Party without fully being aware of the facts," Puri said on Twitter on Monday.

An Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people on board, including a six-member crew, overshot the tabletop runway during landing at the Kozhikode airport in heavy rain on Friday night, fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into two, killing 18 people including both pilots.

Questioning Tagore's tweets on the plane crash, Puri said the Congress MP did not study "the basic facts before turning into an aviation security and protocol expert".

A day after the crash, Tagore had tweeted that the Airports Authority of India and aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation "seem to have ignored" the proposal for using Engineered Material Arrestor System technology to ensure the safety of Kozhikode airport's tabletop runway.

The AAI works under the civil aviation ministry. The EMAS is a unique surface of special materials that is built at the end of the runway to stop the aircraft in its tracks if it has overshot the area while landing.

Puri said on Monday: "Kozhikode airport is equipped with Runway End Safety Area as per ICAO guidelines on safety."

He said the provision of EMAS is not mandatory in a civil airport as per the ICAO guidelines.

Puri said EMAS provides safety benefits if standard RESA length is not available at the airport or if RESA cannot be provided at the airport due to some constraints.

"Provision of EMAS at Mangalore and Kozhikode were examined by AAI in consultation with DGCA, subsequent to the Air India Express accident at Mangalore in 2010. Tabletop runways at both these Airports are accordingly provided with RESA of 240 meters and 90 metres in compliance to DGCA directive," Puri said.

Back in 2010, an Air India Express aircraft overshot the runway at Mangalore airport, fell into a gorge and caught fire, resulting in loss of 158 lives.

After Friday's accident, Tharoor had alleged on Twitter that warnings had been given about the dangers of landing in heavy rain at Kozhikode airport and the AAI knew an accident was waiting to happen.

On Monday, Puri said he was glad that Tharoor had checked the facts and "changed his tune" on the Kozhikode tragedy.

Bittu had alleged on Twitter on August 8 that "despite several red flags and 2015 ban on wide-body aircraft's landing at Kozhikode airport, Hardeep Singh Puri removed the ban in July 2019 leading to such a fatal crash and loss of lives".

The Air India Express plane that crashed on Friday night was a B737, which is a narrow body aircraft.

"MP @RavneetBittu did not know the difference between a narrow body aircraft & a wide bodied one yet he tweeted as an expert on the subject! He did well by deleting his tweet," Puri noted.

A wide body aircraft has a bigger fuel tank as compared to a narrow body aircraft. This allows the former to travel to longer distances as compared to the latter.

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