KOCHI: A day after the Air India Express veered off of the taxiway at the Cochin International Airport and slid into a stormwater drain with 102 passengers and six crew members on board, a two-member team from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reached the airport to investigate the accident on Wednesday. The team visited the accident site and conducted a physical inspection of the aircraft stationed at the aircraft maintenance hangar attached to the airport. The team is expected to ascertain the nature of the damage the aircraft suffered and collect the flight data recorder. Based on the lab report of the data recorder, the team will conduct a detailed inspection to ascertain the cause of the accident and will submit a detailed report, said airport officers.
Sources close to the airline said the commander and the first officer had not been suspended till 6 pm on Wednesday. However, there are chances they will be suspended as it is the normal practice, the sources said. The airline officers made it clear the aircraft was withdrawn from service without upsetting the airline’s normal schedule and another aircraft was arranged.
The withdrawn aircraft will be pressed into service only after mandatory and elaborate checks, including a technical inspection by Boeing. The entire process will take at least a couple of months. The nose wheel of the aircraft has been completely damaged. The engine and other parts are intact, said airline officers.
It took the members of the disabled aircraft recovery team (DART) around 17 hours to remove the aircraft from the accident site and take it to the aircraft maintenance hangar. The aircraft maintenance engineers and DART members first leveled the pit with hollow bricks and sand. They then placed five low-pressure bags, each having a lifting capacity of 30 tonnes, under the plane’s wings to lift it from the pit. Then, the team raised the aircraft’s front portion using a hydraulic system and connected the damaged wheels with a dolly, which was later pulled by a truck into the maintenance hangar. The 17-member DART and 25 employees from the civil and electrical section of the airport were involved in the exercise, which concluded by 4.45 am on Wednesday.