Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Aviation experts said Saturday that they previously raised concerns about the safety of the runway at Kozhikode Calicut International Airport before an India Air plane crashed there, killing 18 people.
Arvind Singh, the chairman of the Airports Authority of India, told the Times of India that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation raised issues about the safety of the runway in 2015, but gave clearance to it in 2019.
Singh said about 20 flights take off or land on the runway each day.
India Air Flight IX-1344 crashed Friday after skidding off the runway and tumbling into a 30-foot deep gorge. The Boeing 737, which carried 190 passengers and crew members, broke apart into two sections.
Among the dead were the pilot and co-pilot.
The runway at the Kerala state airport is what's known as a tabletop runway. That means it's perched atop a higher elevation of land, with ravines or gorges around the outside.
Aviation expert Capt. Mohan Ranganathan told the Hindustan Times that he warned the DGCA that the runway was unsafe in 2011, particularly during wet conditions, as was the case Friday.
"The visibility was fine," he said. "However it was not prudent to land at the KIA because of the downpour."
He said the plane should have diverted to a nearby airport. He also recommended that the length of the runway be extended, though there's not enough land to do so.