The Air India Express flight from Dubai which crashed and split in two while landing at Kozhikode International Airport has claimed the life of the pilot and co-pilot. The deceased have been identified as Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe and First Officer Akhilesh Kumar who flew for Air India. The deaths were confirmed to TNM by the Kozhikode District Collector Sree Ram Sambasivarao. The bodies of the pilot and co pilot are at MIMS Hospital, Kozhikode, the Collector said.The flight was part of the Vande Bharat Mission bringing back Indian who were stuck abroad due to the pandemic.
The pilot, captain Deepak Vasant Sathe, is an ex-Indian Air Force officer who was commissioned into service in 1981 and served in the force for 22 years. He retired in 2003 as squadron leader and moved to commercial aircraft flying as per official data online. According to sources, he was a decorated officer who ranked 58 at the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Sword of Honour in the 127 pilots course. He was a test pilot in the Indian Air Force and skilled at operating Boeing 737 commercial flights.
Heartbreaking. Capt Deepak Sathe was a former Air Force Pilot and also flew through Airbus 310 for air India before moving to air India express on the 737. Sathe won sword of honour at the AFA and was accomplished fighter pilot,he was HAL test pilot too. pic.twitter.com/z4kTnGugRNâ€” Anisha Dutta (@A2D2_) August 7, 2020
The IX 1344 Dubai-Kozhikode Air India Express overshot the table top runway and plunged 30 feet while making a landing at 8 pm on Friday. The front portion of the flight then crashed into a wall causing the carrier splitting into two parts. Kerala has also been receiving intense rains on Friday and the flight had reportedly made its landing on a wet runway.
According to official sources, 11 persons, including the pilots, are confirmed dead, 123 injured and 15 people grievously injured in the air crash.
Several passengers are believed to be grievously injured. They have been admitted to two hospitals in Kondotty in Malappuram. A few of them have been shifted to the Kozhikode Medical College hospital.
The Kozhikode International airport, which is located in Karipur, Malappuram, had earlier too been pulled up by the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for failing to meet safety standards.
Following a 2019 audit by the DGCA, the airport authorities received a show cause notice over unsafe airport maintenance.
The Kozhikode International Airport, has a table top runway located on top of a hillock, with the likelihood of flights overshooting the runway strip being greater. Reports have earlier too pointed out concerns on the length of the runway strip in the airport.