Air India on Sunday asserted that the pilot and co-pilot of its Boeing 737 aircraft which crashed and killed 158 people, including the two pilots and four crew members, on Saturday in Mangalore were experienced and well-rested.
"No, both were well-rested," Air India chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav said in response to a question on whether pilot fatigue caused the crash, one of the worst aviation disasters in the country in a decade.
Flight commander Z Glusica, a British national of Serbian origin, and co-pilot HS Ahluwalia had three-and-a-half days of rest prior to flying the Boeing 737, flight IX 812, from Dubai to Mangalore, Jadhav told a press conference in Mangalore.
Jadhav said Glusica had 19 landings in Mangalore and had over 9,000 hours of flying experience while Ahluwalia had over 3,700 hours of flying experience.
"I cannot ask for a better pilot than Ahluwalia," the Air India head said, adding he was due for commandership in one month.
On Mangalore airport being a difficult one for landing, Jadhav said Indian Airlines, which has now merged with Air India, had been operating the flights from the airport for the last 15 to 20 years. Also Mangalore was not the only airport on Western Ghats; there were Goa and Kozhikode airports too.
He denied any norms of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) were violated by either Air India or the pilots of the crashed aircraft. There are strict DGCA norms of flying for airports like Mangalore and these were followed, Jadhav said.