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Kerala Plane Crash: A Pilot Explains Risks, Rain, Tabletop Runways

On 7 August, an Air-India flight with 190 people on board from Dubai to Kozhikode fell off the runway, killing 18.

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At around 7:40 PM on 7 august, Air-India Express flight IX-1344 with 190 passengers on board from Dubai to Kozhikode skidded off the runway of Karipur International Airport, Kerala.

Soon after, visuals of the wreckage filled television and social media. The mangled remains of an aircraft split in two as it continued to rain . A chaotic scene ensued with people rushing to help, hours taken to evacuate everyone.

An unforeseen tragedy in which 18 people lost their lives, including the pilots – captain Deepak Sathe and co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar, was compounded by the fact that the passengers on board were returning home in a special flight arranged to bring back indians stranded in other countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Boeing-737 aircraft touched down upon Indian soil amid heavy rainfall, it overshot the tabletop runway and fell 35 feet down the slope.

As the investigation is underway into the how and why of the accident, the quint spoke with a former Indian air force fighter pilot, group captain Somala Srinivas, to get a pilot’s perspective on a number of important questions: Are tabletop runways dangerous? How does rain complicate landing? The decisions a pilot must make in adverse conditions and how an investigation into an incident like this is carried out.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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