20 dead, hundreds injured in AI Express plane crash: What we know so far

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Investigating officers from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) will on Saturday start their probe into the Air India Express flight crash at Kozhikode airport in Kerala.

Twenty people, including the plane’s two pilots, were killed on Friday when the jet ripped in two after it overshot and skidded off the runway upon landing, officials said. Hundreds of people were injured, many seriously, after the Air India Express Boeing 737 from Dubai—a coronavirus evacuation flight—plunged down a slope in heavy rain on its second attempt to land in Kozhikode.

Officials said that 190 passengers and crew were onboard the plane that plummeted 35 feet off the table-top runway of Karipur airport, also known as Kozhikode International Airport.

Here is what we know so far:

• An Air India Express (AIE) flight took off around 2am from Delhi to Kozhikode carrying investigating officers from DGCA and AAIB, AIE’s chief executive and other officials of AI and AIE.

• A second plane took off from Mumbai to Kozhikode around 6am on Saturday carrying Angels of Air India and GO employees who will coordinate and liaise with various agencies and provide support and assist families of those affected in this incident.

• The third flight took off from Delhi around 6am carrying the AI’s CMD and other senior officials.

• The civil aviation ministry has said the aircraft overshot the runway at Kozhikode airport at 7.41pm on Friday. “No fire was reported at the time of landing,” it said.

• “Visibility was 2,000 metre and rains were reported. Aircraft was at full speed while landing and overshot the Runway 10. It continued running to the end of the runway and fell down in the valley and broke down into two pieces,” civil aviation regulator DGCA has said.

• The Air India Express pilots attempted two landings before the final one at the tabletop runway but aborted due to tailwind.

• “According to weather radar, the approach was for runway 28 but as pilots found difficulties they went around twice and came from the opposite side on runway 10 and the plane crash-landed at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport,” a senior investigator from DGCA told news agency ANI.

• Captain Deepak Sathe, the pilot-in-command, and his co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar were among those who died. Sathe, 59, was a former wing commander of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and had served at the force’s flight testing establishment.

• The four-cabin crew members are safe, said the Air India Express in a statement.

• All the passengers have been rescued in operations, which took place amid heavy rains, and injured are being treated at various hospitals in Malappuram and Kozhikode.

• There were 184 passengers, including 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew onboard the aircraft, the ministry added.

• It was a repatriation flight operated by the Centre under the ‘Vande Bharat’ mission to bring home Indians hit by international travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

• AFP reported 15 of those on board had lost their jobs and 12 were returning for a medical emergency. Two people on board were coming back for their weddings.

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