NEW DELHI: Responding to fears expressed over Calicut Airport and the controversy over whether this airfield is suited for wide body operations, aviation minister H S Puri on Saturday night reiterated that the airport is safe. He said that an inquiry into the accident has been ordered and cautioned against coming to instant conclusions regarding the airport or this particular mishap.
“…We often find ourselves in circumstances, the response to which defines us. Some of my colleagues in the political system have raised queries regarding Kozhikode air accident without ascertaining facts. It is indeed a fact that several issues were routinely red flagged by DGCA, and were addressed by the airport operator. These pertain to excessive rubber deposits, water stagnation, cracks and other routine issues…. raising such concerns is the normal work of DGCA (which) also strictly ensures that these are complied with and rectified under all circumstances. This was done by the airport operator,” Puri said.

“Most importantly, as in case of Kozhikode accident, an enquiry has been ordered under Aircraft Act, black boxes of flight IX-1344 have been recovered. Findings of this investigation will be made public. I will encourage all to exercise patience and refrain from making speculative observations bordering on the irresponsible. Again to emphasise, all the issues were addressed and rectified,” he added.

About the controversy over allowing of wide body aircraft at Calicut in 2018 after being barred in 2015 due to safety fears, the minister said the Air India Express plane which had met with the mishap on Friday was a narrow body. “As far as wide body aircraft are concerned, DGCA had carried out a thorough assessment and prescribed comprehensive mitigation measures. Airports Authority of India strengthened the runway and thereafter necessary permissions were issued in 2018 to operate wide body aircraft. Consequently, certain carriers started operating some flights with wide body aircraft to Kozhikode Airport. (This) airport has a total footfall of 32 lakh passengers per annum with 70-80 aircraft movement per day. The total wide body operations are only 4% of the total…. we should wait for the outcome of the statutory enquiry and then visit the issue with facts. Instant civil aviation safety expertise by self-styled experts should better be avoided,” he added.

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