May 26, 2010
May 22nd 2010 was a black day in the history of our city - Mangalore. I had a call from my friend who lives closeby to this crash place, at 0630hrs saying “madam, looks like there is something wrong at the airport. We heard a loud noise and can see smoke. Will you please check on the details and call me back?" When I called him back with the news he said fire fighters and ambulances were arriving at the Bajpe airport. Soon the news about the crash spread far and wide.
What is worse is that everyone from common people to experts issued statements and voiced opinions on the crash and other related matters including the safety of the airport. Well, it was very easily spoken than understood. People are still shell shocked losing their loved ones. Some families face the trauma arising out of the multiple deaths following the air crash. The enormity of the trauma cannot be explained by mere words. At this point of time, I think people should refrain from voicing opinions, speculating on the possible causes for the disaster or finding fault with the airport, the runway, Airline Authorities or pilots or anyone else for that matter.
No doubt, speculation plays a vital role in incidents of this nature. Being in the Travel / Airlines Industry, I must admit it is hard for us to take these incidents on our stride because we live with it. We know ours is a table top airport ever since it came into existence. We know it is always risky to land an aircraft. As such only experienced pilots were flying as commanders on this sector.
Over the years, our airport has progressed beyond our imagination, I must say. When I was a kid, I had my uncles flying from this airport almost 40 years back. Now the runway is extended to the other side of the terminal, only because we have a valley on the other side of the airport. And I must say that Mangalore runway meets the required International standards. May be that we will have to acquire sophisticated facilities, which will come in the days to come. After all Rome was not built in a day.!!
Mangalore airport has grown in leaps and bounds from the one flight a day then to almost 11 domestic departures a day and one or two international departures daily. These only speak volumes of the progress our City Mangalore has achieved. If an airbus can safely land at this same airport, this ill-fated aircraft, a Boeing, which has always landed could have landed safely.
Speculating on lack of airport landing safety measures, airport facilities, ILC, short runway etc., is not the proper way of dealing with the crisis. It only increases apprehensions and fear among people who fly from our airport. No doubt what has happened has been a chilling experience to many. But I am astounded that people are talking about an alternate airport. I just wonder, what is the guarantee that the new airport might offer foolproof security against incidents of this nature? An accident is an accident and it happens in a fraction of a second. That is why we call it an accident. Yes we have many questions in mind as to why it happened, how it happened, whose mistake is it anyway? Why, why and why, is a BIG Question in our minds. But the more we answer that question in an un-satisfying manner, the more is the confusion that leaves us unconvinced. So why rub salt on a wound, which will only worsen the pain? Let us try and do what best we can, rather than pointing out fingers at the system at this moment.
We have shown our strength during the crash at the sight by rendering all possible help to the authorities in finding out bodies or shifting them or doing whatever was required to be done at that moment. Let us always live up to this value in us saying “We are Mangaloreans, in Tulu, they say “Enkulu Kudladakulu, Urudakulu…"