Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said all issues such as excessive rubber deposits, water stagnation and cracks that were red-flagged by aviation regulator DGCA in the past had been rectified by the Kozhikode airport operator.
The aviation minister's statement came after various news reports stated that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had issued a show cause notice to the director of the Kozhikode airport on July 11 last year after it found "various critical safety lapses" in different places, including the runway and the apron.
I would advise all those who are looking for a few columns of media space that 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. pic.twitter.com/TiJoh2WYNo— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) August 8, 2020
Puri strongly reacted to criticism from politicians, denying any critical safety lapses and said all issues had been rectified.
I would like to remind my colleagues that the aircraft involved in the incident at Kozhikode was a B-737-800 which is NOT a wide body aircraft. As far as wide body aircraft are concerned, DGCA had carried out a thorough assessment & prescribed comprehensive mitigation measures. pic.twitter.com/7jjQS3deAd— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) August 8, 2020
"It is indeed a fact that several issues were routinely red-flagged by DGCA, and were addressed by the (Kozhikode) airport operator. These pertain to excessive rubber deposits, water stagnation, cracks and other routine issues," Puri tweeted a day after the plane crash in Kozhikode that claimed at least 18 lives. The point is that raising such concerns is the normal work of the DGCA, he noted.
"The DGCA also strictly ensures that these are complied with and rectified under all circumstances. This was done by the airport operator," the minister added.
Kozikhode Airport has a total footfall of 3.2 million passengers per annum with 70-80 aircraft movement per day. The total wide body operations are only 4% of the total.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) August 8, 2020
Puri said an enquiry has been ordered under the Aircraft Act in case of the Kozhikode accident and findings of the investigation will be made public.
The Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people on board overshot the runway at the Kozhikode airport in Kerala at 7.40 pm on Friday in rainy conditions and went down 35 feet into a slope before breaking up into two, killing at least 18 people.
Puri reached Kozhikode on Saturday afternoon to take stock of the relief measures. He went to the accident site at the airport, before visiting the Kozhikode Medical College, where senior doctors briefed him and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan about the condition of the injured people admitted for treatment.
"Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of the ill-fated aircraft have been retrieved. AAIB (Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau) is conducting investigations," Puri said in another tweet.
A DGCA official said the two devices-DFDR and CVR - were with the AAIB and would be sent to Delhi for further investigation.
"Reached Kozhikode to take stock of the status and implementation of relief measures after the air accident last evening," Puri tweeted earlier in the day.
"My heart goes out to the families & friends of the 18 people who lost their lives in the air accident involving @FlyWithIX Flight IX-1344 in Kozhikode last evening & offer my heartfelt condolences (sic)," he said.
Reasons for the plane crash are being investigated, the minister added. At 3.47 pm, Puri said on Twitter that he visited the Kozhikode Medical College hospital with Muraleedharan.
"Senior doctors briefed us on the status of various people admitted for treatment. 149 people have been admitted to various hospitals. 23 have been discharged while 3 are critically injured (sic)," he said in another tweet.
(With inputs from PTI)