Air India Express Tragedy-Digital Flight Data Recorder Found-Was it Pilot Error?

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Media Reports
Bellevision Media Network

Mangalore, 24 May 2010: Investigators have  recovered two out of the three parts of the Black Box from the wreckage of the ill-fated Air India Express that crashed at the Bajpe Airport on Saturday 22 May 2010  morning. Search is still on for the third critical part of the data box. The Black Box is plane’s digital flight data recorder that helps in facilitating the investigation of an aircraft accident. The investigators now hope to find out what exactly went wrong during the incident. The box, which records all flight information, will help investigators recreate the last moments of the flight to find out what exactly went wrong leading to the crash. Based on the data from the parts of the data box, the conversation between the pilots is being put together.

It is being speculated that the pilots of the Air India plane IX 812 which crashed in Mangalore on Saturday may have tried to take off again, after overshooting the landing zone by around 2,000 feet. This comes after the investigators recovered the plane’s throttle from the crash site in forward position.

Earlier, a forensic team had arrived from Hyderabad to conduct DNA tests on those bodies that have charred beyond recognition. More than 100 bodies have been identified so far from among the 158 victims.

The Air India Boeing 737-800, carrying 160 passengers and a crew of six, overshot a runway and crashed in flames near Mangalore in which 158 were killed. There were only eight survivors from the flight that came in from Dubai.

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel, who is keeping PM posted on the progress of the investigation into the tragedy, is reported to have also told him that not a single piece of tyre was found on the runway.

Zlatco  Glusica, the British pilot of Serbian origin, was capable of landing the Boeing 737-800 on an airstrip of even 4,000 feet. He had done it before. The pilot and co-pilot were so experienced that they could have landed easily even if they had jumped more than 3,000 feet while landing.

However, a team of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officials camping in Mangalore informed the government that the pilot not only overshot the runway but also made fatal split-second errors while trying to take off again after realising that he won’t be able to control the aircraft after applying brakes. The senior pilot was “disoriented while landing” because in touchdown conditions a split second can cause havoc, the officials said.

Air India pilots have objected to speculative theories that attribute Saturday’s air crash at Mangalore to “pilot error.” Instead, they say “archaic” regulations issued by the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 1992, on how long pilots can fly and be on duty without a break, could be a significant factor in causing “pilot fatigue.”

Referring to Flight IX 812, an Air India pilot said Captain Zlatko Glusica commanded the flight from Kozhikode to Dubai on Friday night before returning to Mangalore on Saturday morning. The pilot might have been “well-rested” on that particular leg of the journey, but might have “undergone cumulative stress over a period of time.” “Many Air India pilots, he said, complete the stipulated maximum of 1,000 hours in a calendar year in 10-11 months, implying that their flying time is compressed in a shorter time span than what the regulation intended.”


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