Pilot Error or ATC Bungle? - Black Box may be Recovered on Sunday: DGP

Pilot Error or ATC Bungle?  -
Black Box may be Recovered on Sunday: DGP

Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Pics by Dayananda Kukkaje, Spoorthy Ullal and Harshad Vorkady

Mangalore , May 23 (DHNS): DGCA investigators are highly skilled at solving the mystery of plane crashes. But with Air India Express Flight IX-812, they are tackling a different puzzle: What went wrong to cause the pilot to overshoot the runway by as much as 1,500 feet? 

On Saturday, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said that before crashing the aircraft to its doom, the pilot followed ILS approach for landing and reported to ATC that the jet had set course on ILS approach about 10 miles ahead of touchdown.

Landing clearance was given about 4 miles from touchdown. “However, during the final approach, the pilot lost control with ATC,” Patel said, clarifying that the ILS was operating normally and weather conditions were fine with visibility of 6 kms. There were calm winds and no rain when the wheels of the aircraft touched the asphalt runway.

As early as last Saturday, Patel had announced plans to extend the runway by another 1,000 feet for enhanced security and even declared setting aside Rs 100 crore for the purpose.

Captain Zlotka Glusica, who had 10,200 hours of flying experience and had commanded 19 previous flights from Mangalore, overshot the landing threshold by 1,500 feet when he should have touched down at the 500-700 feet mark.

It is not clear what the last words of the pilot and his co-pilot, Capt H S Ahluwalia, who has had 3,650 hours of flying experience, of which 3,350 hours were on Boeing 737 aircraft, were before the jet hurtled inexorably towards it doom. The elusive “black box” will likely resolve the puzzle, but DGCA investigators and those at the ATC, who watched in horror the plane wobble and fall into the valley, are left wondering why the two pilots did not begin a normal descent when they should have at the dawn of Saturday.

This suggests the crash was the result of pilot error. But apprehensions are being expressed in various quarters at the airport over the early arrival of the flight and its landing at 6:02 am.

Airport sources suspect the plane landed without necessary ATC clearance. But ATC division deputy general manager Pradeep said his staff gave due clearance with the pilot before the plane landed.

Did the pilots lose “situational awareness” caused by a last moment technical snag that forced the pilot to land the aircraft almost in the middle of the runway? The fforts made by the pilot to take off again proved futile, a fact which the DGCA investigators will certainly consider vital.

In this context, the evidence that will emerge from the “black box”, the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, which could capture any conversation between the two pilots, and the flight data recorder, which would record any manipulation of the controls, would be vital. No less important would be the evidence or the lack of it at the ATC where the staff would know what really went wrong.

Black box may be recovered today: DGP

The black box of the crashed aeroplane Air India Express IX-812 Dubai - Mangalore is expected to be recovered by Sunday morning, said IGP (Fire and Emergency Service) Jija Harisingh.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, she said that the efforts are on to find the location of the black box in the crashed plane. Once the location was identified, the area will be cooled and operation will be launched to recover the black box, she added.

92 Kannadigas, 66 Keralites

Special Officer for rescue operations Yogendra Tripati told reporters that bodies of all the 158 passengers were recovered by evening. Out of 158 passengers, 92 are Kannadigas while 66 are from Kerala, he added.

A total of 72 bodies are identified where 38 are from Kerala. While 13 bodies are kept at A J Hospital morgue, 109 are kept in Wenlock, 6 in KMC, 9 in Fr Mullers, 3 in SCS, 8 in KSHEMA, 4 in Yenepoya, 4 in Colaco and 2 in City hospital.

Laurels to public

Director General of Police Ajay Kumar Singh lauded public, corporate institutions, hospitals and organisations for their active participation in the rescue operation. He said that the hospitals in the city have assured all help in preserving the dead bodies and to conduct postmortems. None of the hospitals face shortage of doctors or any other facilities.

Postmortem on identified bodies will be conducted first, he said adding that all procedures will be followed strictly while conducting postmortem. Cases under Sections 279, 337, 304 (a) of IPC have been registered at the Bajpe Police Station based on the complaint filed by Abdulla Puttur, who survived in the mishap, DGP said. The press meet started with silent prayer paying homage to the aircrash victims. 
Patel meets PM, Owns moral Responsibility for Mangalore Crash

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) : Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel Saturday met Prime Minister Minister Manmohan Singh and owned up moral responsibility for the Air India Express Boeing 737 crash in Mangalore in which at least 159 people were killed.

"I expressed my anguish. I told him about my personal and moral responsibility as head of the civil aviation family," Patel told reporters after meeting the prime minister at his 7, Race Course Road residence.

Though he did not give a direct answer to queries about his having made an offer to resign, Patel said he had "a great sense of personal anguish and felt morally responsible that such a tragic incident had taken place".

Patel, who went to Mangalore Saturday morning to oversee the rescue operations, said the prime minister expressed his shock, pain and anguish at the incident and told him "not to be overcome by the situation but to face it".

He said the prime minister conveyed that any mistakes should be corrected and that certain things were beyond control.

Manmohan Singh had spoken to Patel, who was in Mumbai, early Saturday morning after which the minister rushed to Mangalore.

"It was my duty to brief the prime minister about the tragic incident," Patel said.

Patel said the situation of the plane before its landing and that of the Mangalore airport appeared to be normal by all accounts.

"On a normal day, it should have been a normal landing."

He said the 8,000 feet runway was fully suited for Boeing 737 aircraft. "The runway has an instrument landing system. It has a navigation system. The visibility was approximately six kilometres, winds were calm, there was no rain and the runaway was dry."

He said in these circumstances there would have been a normal landing but "unfortunately, as it appears, the plane landed beyond the normal threshold and overshot the runway".

"This was a completely certified runway."

He said Mangalore has a "table top" runway but the plane did not stop at the 90 metre sandfilled runover area and plunged into the valley.

The pilot had flying experience of about 10,200 hours of which 2,700 hours had been spent as a commander of a Boeing 737 aircraft, Patel informed. He said the co-pilot had done more than 3,500 hours of flying and added that the two pilots had knowledge of the airport and its topography.

"The reason of the crash will be known when the high level inquiry ordered by DGCA (Director General Civil Aviation) is completed," he said, adding that Air India was also doing its own inquiry and will assist the DGCA in its work. He said the DGCA would take assistance of outside experts if required.

Patel, who spoke to some survivors, said the plane appeared to have caught fire gradually and there was no explosion.

Conveying his sympathies with the bereaved families, he said as per the Montreal Convention the families of those killed will get upto $160,000 in compensation.

Patel said that the black-box of the plane is likely to be found from the wreckage.

Answering queries, he said that steps had been taken to resume flights from Mangalore.

If any steps were needed to improve the airport, those will be taken, he added.

Help Mangalore crash victims' kin, Tharoor urges Gulf NRIs

Thiruvananthapuram, May 22 (IANS) Former junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor Saturday urged affluent NRIs in the Gulf to raise a fund to help the families of those killed in the Mangalore air disaster, many of who were from Kerala, as their remittances kept the Indian economy "buoyant".

"We must help the bereaved families in their hour of need" as "their remittances helped keep our economy buoyant", Tharoor, who is the MP from Thiruvananthapuram, told IANS.

Tharoor said he mourned the loss of "so many migrant labourers" whose families depended on them as "sole breadwinners".

"The we is not just government, though I think the government compensation should be in addition to Air-India's. Then, we should also appeal to affluent NRIs in the Gulf, many of whom benefitted from the services of those who perished. I appeal to them to raise a generous fund to help the bereaved families as well," he said, adding that he would Tweet about it "shortly".

At least 159 people were killed when Air India Express flight 812 flying in from Dubai crashed while landing at the Mangalore airport and burst into flames as it overshot the touchdown zone.

Updates at 7.30pm

Last minutes of the ill-fated AI flight 

Mangalore (Karnataka), May 22 (IANS)
From landing to plunging down a cliff - the last minutes of the Air India Express flight that crashed here Saturday morning killing 159 people:

- The Boeing 737 lands around 6.05 a.m., visibility is clear.

- Does not stop.

- Crosses the runway spillover area of 90 metres.

- Ploughs through a wall of sandbags.

- Veers off.

- One of the wings, probably the right wing, crashes into a concrete structure, technically called a localizer, that functions as landing aid.

- Wing falls off at crash point.

- Plunges 200/300 metres down a cliff.

- Catches fire after some time, leaving charred bodies, some found with seat belts on, according to rescue workers.

- Some time during the last minutes, a big crack appears in the plane's body through which seven passengers escape. One of them a woman.

- A four-year-old girl rescued alive from the wreckage. She dies on way to a nearby hospital.

The last minutes of the Dubai to Mangalore flight were detailed by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel at a press conference.

Updates at 5.45 pm

Air India has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lac each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the survivors. A total of Rs 75 crore will be doled out as compensation. State has announced a day's mourning as a mark of grief.

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel said that thorough investigation will be done into the incident. The state has no role in the investigation, while the centre will entirely look into the investigation. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa reiterated that centre will solely take up the investigation. 

In the latest development, 11 more bodies have been recognized. External affairs minister S M Krishna visited the crash site and also held an aerial survey of the site, first time after the incident.    

Blackbox, the important evidence that is likely to solve the riddle behind the actual technical reason for the catstrophe is not clear as yet. According to airport authorities, runway was clearly visible to the pilot, but crashed the plane after losing control of the aircraft after an unsuccessful attempt to take off. It is said that captain had attempted to land the plane on the middle of the runway but overshot by about 300 metres. Though he tried to take off again, the left wing of the plane hit a tree and pilot lost control.

Names of Survivors
Sabrina Nasrinhuq
Ummer Farook
Mayankutty  K P
Mohammed Kunhi,
Joel Pratap D’Souza,
Krishnan Koolikkunnu
G K Pradeep
Puttur Ismail Abdulla

Black Box of Air India Flight not Traced, 146 Bodies Found 

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) Authorities have recovered 146 bodies from the debris of the Air India flight that crashed in Mangalore Saturday and a court of inquiry will be ordered soon to know the cause of the disaster, Civil Aviation Secretary M M Nambiar said.

He also said that the cockpit voice recorder, also called the black box, was yet to be recovered from the crash site.

"We have recovered 146 bodies, including those of the commander and two female crew members," Nambiar told reporters here.

He said an immediate inquiry was ordered by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to ascertain the cause of the crash.

"The ministry will also set up a court of inquiry shortly," he said. "So far, we have not recovered the black box."

The plane, which crashed while landing at the Mangalore airport, had 166 people -- 137 adult passengers, 19 children, four infants and six crew, according to the civil aviation ministry.

Nambiar made it clear that the flight was completely air-worthy and had been acquired just two years ago and that the airport at Mangalore was also safe. There had been 32,000 landings since 2006.

"Our focus is now on rescue and relief operations. Air India will run a special flight from Dubai to bring the kith and kin of ones who have lost their lives," the secretary added.

Nambiar said the commander, who was of Serbian origin, had an experience of 10,200 hours. In Mangalore, he added, the commander had made 19 successful landings.

According to him, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel will return to New Delhi later in the evening and brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mangalore : Air India Express Crash - Three More Survivors Found

Mangalore, May 22 : According to the latest reports from the air crash site as the rescue operations are nearing its end there is a faint hope of three more survivors with three people found breathing and rescued from the wreckage, thus taking the number of survivors to 9. 
In what can be termed as Karnataka’s biggest air tragedy, the Air India Express that crashed in Mangalore this morning has claimed the lives 160 people. Of the dead 60 passengers are from Kerala and the rest are from Karnataka.  Among those dead 105 are men, 36 women and 19 are children.  So far 139 bodies have been recovered of which 113 bodies have been recognized. The bodies are kept in Wenlock Hospital, in Mangalore.
All the six crew members on the ill-fated aircraft died in the crash.   According to latest reports co-pilot Commander H S Ahluwaliva is from Bangalore and Chief Pilot a British national of Serbian origin Captain Zlatko Glusica. Air Hostess first officer Sujatha Survase, crew Mohammed Ali, Tejal A Kamalkar and Yoganther Rana were the other members.    


Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, external affairs minister S M Krishna,  Kerala Chief Minister Achyuthanandan and Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visited the hospitals and consoled the survivors undergoing treatment. 
According to Bajpe Airport authorities the runway has been cleared and only light aircrafts are permitted to land at the airport.  While Air India has demanded extension of runway following the incident, home minister Dr V S Acharya maintained that the airport that has been providing service since 60 years has a safe runway and the incident is one of its kind.  
Reacting to unconfirmed reports that the pilot failed to alert ATC through a distress call Air India director Anup Srivastav declined to comment saying that this will be confirmed only after investigations are done. 

Updates at 3.00pm

Sources say that this is the third among the biggest air tragedies seen by the country. As the local airport has been closed, the flights bound for Mangalore are being diverted to Calicut, informed Air India chairman and managing director, Arvind.

Majority of the passengers who lost their lives are from Kerala state. Kerala government has declared two-day mourning in the state. Union civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, arrived at the airport and inspected the spot. He has ordered for a probe.

In the meanwhile, reports said that the special helicopter which was carrying state Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa, terminated its journey at Hassan, as the pilot felt that the thick clouds over the Western Ghats can pose danger. Yeddyurappa took the road route to reach the city.

The rescue teams have been working tirelessly to remove bodies from the spot. This operation nearing its end, it is gathered.

According to Ummer Farooq, one of the survivors of the tragedy, he heard a strange sound followed by thick smoke, after the aeroplane touched down at the runway. He said he jumped out of the aircraft through a crack that appeared in the plane's body near his seat, due to the impact of the accident, and escaped to safety. Farooq suffered some burn injuries and injuries to his knees.

Earlier Updates:


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