Air India Plane Crash: Tabletop Runways Can Be So Dangerous

 - Sakshi Post

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft operated by Air India Express under the 'Mission Vande Bharat' repatriating flyers from Dubai to Calicut overshot the runway at Kozhikode airport a tabletop runway like Mangalore's and fell 50 feet down a slope, resulting in the aircraft splitting into two.

Tabletop runways are considered to be difficult to land an aircraft except for the best commercial pilots. A tabletop runway is completely a runway constructed over a hill, plateau or mountain by levelling the surface. Such high altitude runways have a steep drop either on one side or on both sides.

There are three tabletop airports in India - Calicut International Airport in Malappuram, India and Mangalore International Airport in Mangalore, and Lengpui airport in Mizoram.

According to the reports, the Air India Express aircraft at Kozhikode did not catch fire after the crash, thereby mitigating losses. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that the aircraft seemed to have touched down at a higher than normal pace, giving the pilots less time to land at a runway that is shorter than average.

When there is a cliff, as in the case of a Kozhikode accident, the pilots must be extra cautious to stop the plane at the right point. It creates an illusion that the runway is stretching along while, in reality, the runway is giving way to a gorge.  However, the situation would be tricky in circumstances like heavy rainfall and sometimes pilots need to understand the right landing spot that leads to a plane overshooting the runway.  

A similar crash occurred at Mangalore International Airport in India in May 2010. The tragic incident resulted in the death of 158 passengers. In this case, a Boeing 737-800operated from Dubai by Air India Express, which overshot the runway while landing and fell down a hill, bursting into flames.

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