Airport authorities at the Mangalore International Airport stated that the incident of an Air India Express aircraft veering off the main taxiway while landing on Sunday was caused by over speeding.
At 6 pm on Sunday, the IX384 Air India Express aircraft travelling from Dubai to Mangaluru veered off the taxiway and onto the grass at the Mangalore International Airport before skidding to a halt on a patch of mud and grass. All 183 passengers and six crew members aboard the plane were safe.
Speaking to TNM, Mangalore International Airport Director VV Rao said, "The pilot, while attempting to land, could not establish a stable approach so the aircraft circled the runway and landed in the second attempt. The aircraft skid after the pilot was unable to control the speed while turning from the runway to the taxiway. The pilot has to slow down and turn into the taxiway. If the aircraft is fast, a 90-degree turn is not possible so it is because of speed this has happened."
The runway is the surface on which aircraft land and take off while the taxiway connects the runway and the area where the aircraft is parked and passengers board or de-board.
Pax video of the Mangalore runway excursion of Air India Express pic.twitter.com/UPAopid1ivâ€” Mohan Ranganathan (@Mohan_Rngnathan) July 1, 2019
Rao further added that operations at the airport were suspended for two hours on Sunday. It is now back up and running even at the taxiway where the incident occurred. He also stated that the tabletop runway at the airport did not cause the incident.
"There is a lot of discussion about the tabletop runway but that had nothing to do with the incident since it occurred only on the taxiway. In fact, all operations are functional at the airport and we managed to continue running despite rains this morning," added Rao.
The Mangalore International Airport is located in Bajpe, around 10 km from Mangaluru city. It lies on top of a hill with steep drops at the end of its runways known as tabletop runway.
Despite the airport authorities attempt to play down infrastructure concerns, the latest incident raises fresh questions about the airport. Mohan Ranganathan, a former instructor pilot and an aviation safety expert, told TNM that the airport authorities should not preempt discussion about the incident and wait for the investigations to be completed.
"It appears from the video posted by a passenger that this is a case of an aircraft approaching the taxiway at high speeds and the pilot has tried to turn from the runway to the taxiway. However, airport authorities should wait for the full investigation report and not preempt discussion on the incident. It is clear that Mangalore International Airport is not safe and airport authorities are trying to avoid criticism over the incident," he said.
The incident evoked memories of the crash at the Mangalore International Airport which killed 158 people in 2010. A Boeing 737-800 aircraft overshot the runway and plunged down a gorge at the end of it. Investigations revealed that the pilot was asleep when the crash occurred. The cockpit voice recorder picked up the sound of the pilot snoring before the crash.