India's worst air disaster

  •, PTI
  • |
  • Updated: Jun 20, 2003 16:19 IST

It has gone down as the worst chapter in the history of civil aviation in India.

On the fateful day of 12th November 1996, a Saudi B747 collided with a Kazakh IL76 about 40 miles west of Indian capital killing all the 365 persons on board the two aircraft.

The primary cause of accident as identified by the Court of Inquiry headed by Justice RC Lahoti, then associated with Delhi High Court, was 'ridiculous' inability of the Kazakh cockpit crew to understand English language of Air Traffic Control.

Much before this collision the controllers at Delhi had submitted to the authorities that the cockpit-crew of various CIS country aircraft are not able to comprehend the instructions given to them and had been committing serious mistakes quite often.

One of the controller, frustrated by inaction of the authorities to remedy the situation had even written in his duty log book "are we waiting for an accident to take place".

Unfortunately, his apprehensions proved right, but at a great cost. This collision
had led to much-desired emphasis on ensuring that the Cockpit Crew (Pilot and Co-pilot) have good knowledge of English Language.

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