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Mangalore crash: Pilot nodded off

india Updated: Nov 17, 2010 09:28 IST
Tushar Srivastava

The Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the Mangalore air crash has concluded that the pilot in command was at fault, including the fact that he was sleepy.

The inquiry into the country's worst air tragedy of the decade that claimed 158 lives has established that Captain Z Glusica, the pilot in command of the Air India Express flight IX-812 from Dubai to Mangalore on May 22, reacted late and also, many standard operating procedures were not followed during landing.

The report has stated the plane touched down at Runway 24 of the Mangalore airport, which is approximately 8,000 feet long, when it had already crossed over 5,000 feet of the tabletop runway. With less than 3,000 feet of runway left, the pilots tried to take off again --only to crash into a gorge.

Experts have concluded that despite the limited runway left, had the pilot applied emergency brakes and not attempted to take off again, the plane could have been brought to a halt. The plane's takeoff gear was found activated.

The CoI has stated Glusica, an expatriate, was asleep for over 1 hour 40 minutes of the three-hour flight and "disoriented" at the time when the plane started to descend. This is corroborated by a long silence observed in the cockpit.

Sources said Glusica was suffering from "sleep inertia".

An analysis of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) has revealed there was heavy nasal snoring and breathing.

In fact, sources said, the National Transportation Safety Board of the US, which was part of the examination of CVR and DFDR, told CoI members this was a rare case where such heavy and loud snoring of the pilot could be heard.

H S Ahluwalia, the co-pilot of the ill-fated flight, warned Glusica repeatedly to "abort landing" saying they didn't have enough runway left and thrice asked him to "go around". As per the last minute conversations, the pilots could be heard saying "oh my God" and the co-pilot saying "pull-up". Capt Glusica had 10,200 hours of flying experience while Capt Ahluwalia had 3,650 hours of flying experience. The report was submitted to civil aviation minister Praful Patel on Tuesday and would be tabled in the Parliament. It has suggested several steps including "hard landing" and medical check-ups to avert such mishaps.