An Air India flight AI 263 which landed wrongly on an under-construction runway at the Male airport recently, could have been averted had the airport ground staff communicated with the pilots, said Thayyib Ibu Faisal of Amnesty International's Prisoner of Conscience in his tweet while quoting Velana International Airport (VIA).
He tweeted, "A VIA bird says wrong landing of Air India flight on Sept. 7 on under construction new runway was not because of fault of pilots alone. The airport ground crew was equally at fault."
The AI 263 flight, with 136 passengers, was operating on Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram-Male sector, and everyone was safe when it touched down on the uncommissioned runway.
Faisal quoted VIA as saying, "While approaching the 180 end, the protruder appeared to be at a greater distance and some materials used to drawing lines kept uncovered confused the pilots. The contractor/ ground staffs were not careful to cover the materials. This carelessness by airport authorities could have led to a major tragedy."
He added, "Rather than investigating the matter in a proper manner, the entire blame was put on the Air India pilots as a cover-up. YAG (President Yameen Abdul Gayoom) propaganda machinery even tried to gain political mileage out of the incident. YAG's Deputy Minister @AhmedSiddeeq even claimed it was a terrorist attack! What a shame."
The construction of the new runway at the Male International airport had started in March 2018 and the work is almost complete. However, the runway is still not ready for landings.
The runway, which is reported to be 3,400-meter-long and 60-meter-wide will allow Airbus A380 planes to land at the airport once opened.