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The flight data recorders of the Air India Express flight that broke into pieces after it skidded off a tabletop runway amid heavy rain at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport late Friday evening have been found. The recorders, a Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) store crucial information about a plane’s altitude, position and speed, as well as records of conversations between the pilots, and are critical in helping aviation investigators understand what happened to flight IX-1344. Eighteen people, including both pilots, were killed after the flight from Dubai, which was carrying 190 people, skidded, overshot the runway and slid into a valley yesterday. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has ordered an investigation into the mishap.

An Air India special assistance team has reached Kerala to coordinate relief and counselling for family members of the 190 people who were on board the Air India Express flight from Dubai that crashed at airport in Kerala’s Kozhikode on Friday evening. The special assistance team, called “Angels of Air India“, were flown from Mumbai to coordinate relief and counsel the injured passengers as well as the family members of the injured and dead passengers, Air India Express said.

Two special relief flights have been arranged from Delhi and one from Mumbai for humanitarian assistance to all the passengers and their family members, Air India Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the national carrier, said.

The Emergency Response Director is coordinating with all the agencies in Kozhikode, Mumbai as well as in Delhi, Dubai for effective emergency response,” it said in a statement.

Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal, and Air India Express Chief Executive Officer K Shyam Sundar have already reached
Kozhikode, according to the statement.

The pilots of the Boeing 737 aborted two landings due to tailwind and circled the airport several times before the final landing, which saw the plane overshoot the runway and roll 35 feet downslope. The Kozhikode airport has a tabletop runway, one of those located on the top of a plateau or hill with one or both ends adjacent to a steep precipice which drops into a deep gorge.

The airport is located on a hill, and several international airlines had stopped flying bigger aircraft including Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets into Kozhikode due to safety issues over the length on the runway.

The Air India Express flight IX-1344 from Dubai to Calicut was operating under the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad because of coronavirus lockdowns. The Air India Express has only B-737 aircraft in its fleet.

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There were 184 passengers on the plane, including 10 babies and 4 cabin crew members. Many passengers were workers returning home after losing their jobs in Dubai due to the pandemic.

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