Another possible air tragedy was averted at the Mangalore international airport after Mangaluru-bound Air India Express 814 flight skidded off while landing and damaged the runway lights on Sunday early morning. All the 185 passengers including two infants aboard are reported to be safe.
Some reports suggested that due to heavy rain and fog there was a lack of clear visibility. The aircraft skidded off to the right and hit the runway lights. However, the pilots pulled it back to the "table top" runway's centre line averting the tragedy, reports India.com. According to Kannada Prabha, the flight damaged at least six runway lights. However, there was no damage to the plane and also no injuries to people aboard.
It may be recalled here that in 2010, at the same airport, an Air India Express Flight 812 had overshot the runway on landing and had fallen over a cliff killing 160 passengers and six crew members on board. This is India's one of the deadliest air disasters.
The Sunday's incident has yet again brought the safety issues at the Mangalore International Airport to the focus. After the earlier air tragedy, the traffic at the Mangalore airport had drastically come down, as many passengers were apprehensive to travel via Mangalore. The Mangalore airport is regarded as one of the trickiest airstrips as the airport is located on a hillock and the runway is built on a flat stretch of land with either end of the runway sloping downwards. In case of lack of judgement on the part of pilots while landing, chances of aircraft overshooting the runway and go down the hill are high. As in the case of AirIndia Express flight 812, according to a report from the Times of India.
Besides, the Kerala government is building an airport at Kannur which is just 140 km South of Mangaluru. Once the airport is materialised, it will certainly affect the air traffic in Mangaluru. For, a majority of international passengers from the northern part of Kerala are dependent on Mangalore airport thanks to its proximity. Once the Kannur airport is ready, they may opt for Kannur than using Mangalore airport.