The mistaken landing on the Velana International Airport’s unfinished runway by an Air India flight Friday afternoon is under investigation by both Indian and Maldivian authorities.
India’s aviation safety regulator has suspended the pilot and co-pilot of the A320 neo aircraft, Indian media reported, as the lives of 136 passengers and four crew members were put at risk.
“This being a serious incident, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau has been informed. Both the pilots have been put off the roster,” a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation told The Indian Express.
The Air India flight flew to Malé from Thiruvananthapuram.
Two tyres were deflated when the aircraft was towed to the parking bay, according to a report filed by the airline.
Finishing work on VIA’s new runway was ongoing when it landed. The state-owned Maldives Airport Company Ltd and the Civil Aviation Authority launched a joint inquiry, state media reported.
The defence minister also vowed an investigation of the “serious incident”.
A MACL official told Mihaaru that the air traffic controller was not to blame. The pilots were told the runway was clear and the under-construction runway was covered with pieces of cloth with cross signs, the official noted.
According to MACL, permits have not been secured yet to make the runway operational. The Code 5 runway can accommodate the double-deck Airbus A380 jetliner, the world’s largest passenger airline.
The final asphalt layer was laid in late August and fuel hydrants have been installed.
During a campaign trip last week, President Abdulla Yameen said an A380 aircraft will land on the new runway before the September 23 election.