Centre has urged Kerala for 152 acres land to increase runway length at Kozhikode airport: Minister

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New Delhi, Jul 22 (PTI) The Centre has requested the Kerala government to provide 152.25 acres of land 'free of cost and free from all encumbrances' so that it can increase the length of the runway from 150 metres to 280 metres, construct embankments and build a runway-end safety area at the Kozhikode airport, Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh told Parliament on Thursday.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on whether the Centre has taken any steps to ensure safety at the Kozhikode airport after the August 2020 plane crash there, Singh said a committee was formed to 'suggest additional safety measures at some airports including Calicut (Kozhikode)'.

An Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people on board, including a six-member crew, overshot the tabletop runway during landing at the Kozhikode airport in heavy rains on August 7 last year. It fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into pieces, killing 21 people, including both pilots.

Singh said the committee has suggested various measures, including exploring the feasibility of providing a 280-metre runway strip instead of 150 metres at present.

It has also suggested construction of a runway-end safety area at both ends of the runway to reduce the payload restrictions on the aircraft.

The minister said the committee has recommended filling, levelling and construction of embankments at the airport.

'The government has requested the state government of Kerala to provide 152.25 acres of land free of cost and free from all encumbrances for executing the works as per recommendations made by the committee,' he said.

Five days after the plane crash last year, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) had formed a five-member panel to inquire into the circumstances of the accident. The panel is yet to submit its report.

Captain S S Chahar, a former DGCA-designated examiner for pilots of the B737NG aircraft, is the investigator-in-charge in the panel.

He is assisted by operations expert Ved Prakash, senior aircraft maintenance engineer-B737 Mukul Bhardwaj, aviation medicine expert Y S Dahiya and AAIB Deputy Director Jasbir Singh Larhga. PTI DSP RC

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