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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Pilot Error Highlighted In Air India Express Crash

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Pilot mistake, poor communication, and work culture were all factors in the accident of an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 at Kozhikode airport (CCJ) on August 7, 2020, according to investigators.

The pilots landing too far down the wet runway with a tailwind triggered the tragedy, which killed 19 passengers and two pilots after the jet skidded off the tabletop runway.

On September 12, 2021, Indian investigators from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) presented their final report on the crash.

The captain, who was pilot flying (PF), failed to follow standard operating procedures (SOP) when he “continued an unstabilized approach and landed beyond the touchdown zone, half way down the runway,” according to the AAIB. The investigators noted that this occurred despite the first officer’s (FO) call for a go-around, as well as the FO’s refusal to take over the controls and perform a go-around himself.

Poor crew resource management (CRM), which refers to communication and coordination among the crew, was a major contributory factor in the crash, according to the investigators, exposing the airline’s work culture.

“The work culture and the prevailing cockpit gradient in Air India Express leading to poor Crew Resource Management was a significant factor that contributed to the crash of AXB 1344 by preventing the FO from being assertive enough to take charge in the cockpit (when required to do so),” they wrote in the report.

The VT-AXH Air India Express Boeing 737-800 aircraft was flying back from Dubai (DXB) to repatriate passengers who had been trapped due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The aircraft, designated AXB 1344, took off from DXB at 10:00 UTC, carrying 184 passengers and six crew members.

The captain’s windscreen wiper briefly stopped operating on the first approach to Runway 28 at CCJ. The crew cited weather as the cause for not having the runway in sight at the required time during the initial attempt at landing, which resulted in a go-around.

Another plane approached the tower and inquired if they may take off from the opposite runway, Runway 10. The tower approved and requested that AXB 1344 make an approach for Runway 10.

The AXB 1344 crew agreed. The tailwind component, on the other hand, was significantly stronger than the tower recorded.

The aircraft landed in light rain with a tailwind component of 15 knots, exceeding the company maximum of 10 knots, on the second approach, which became unstable after the captain flew below the glideslope and subsequently overcorrected. The plane landed after a “alarming protracted float period,” landing at 4,438 feet, halfway down a wet runway that was 8,858 feet long and more than 1,000 feet beyond the touchdown zone, according to the report. Thrust reversers were also not fully deployed.

According to the investigators, the jet could not have stopped on the runway at the location where it landed under the weather circumstances that day, based on calculations and models.

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