Investigate & publicize Mangalore air crash

  • by: Syed Tanveeruddin
  • target: Supreme Court, President, PM, AAI, DGCA, Guv, CM, Ministry of Civil Aviation

Last Update: Mon, May 24, 2010 at 18:50 hrs Indian Std. Time
http://www.petitiononline.com/mangalor/
http://www.esgindia.org/campaigns/bajpe/press.html
158 killed as plane crashes at Mangalore The Hindu Sun, May 23, 2010
Mangalore Crash - Plane crashes after overshooting the runway at Mangalore International Airport. Flight: Air India Express IX-812 (Dubai to Mangalore) Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 (Inducted in 2008) On Board: Passengers: 160 Crew: 06
http://www.hindu.com/2010/05/23/stories/2010052360150100.htm

Photo The Hindu
Mangalore air crash at a glance Times of India, May 22, 2010 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Mangalore/Mangalore-air-crash-at-a-glance/articleshow/5962728.cms 
Accident happened : 6.30am
The runway: It is a brand new runway. The Mangalore airport is situated on a hillock, and the runway is built on a flat stretch of land, with either ends of the runway sloping downwards. So, if a pilot misjudges his landing or take-off, the aircraft will overshoot the runway and go downhill. Which is what seems to have happened to Air India Express flight IX-812.
Length: 5,800 ft (1,740 mts) Runway elevation: 336 ft (101 mts)
The weather: What was the weather like during the crash?
No rain, wind calm but there was dense fog over the airport. Visibility was only 6 km, more than that required.
Passengers: Total: 166 (137 adults, 19 children, 4 infants and 6 crew)
Survivors: 7
Plane facts
State-of-the-art Boeing 737-800 inducted on Jan. 15, 2008.
Piloted by Serbian expatriate Capt Zlatko Glusica.
Glusica (55) had 10,000 hours of flying experience.

Theory 1
It overshot the runway after it landed. The plane didn't stop after landing. Could it be a tyre burst?

Theory 2
The aircraft overshot the runway, hit the fence and went beyond the boundary wall of the airport, broke and went up in flames.

Safety lessons yet to be learnt - The Hindu Sun, May 23, 2010
http://www.hindu.com/2010/05/23/stories/2010052362941000.htm
This accident is a result of complacency in the system
It
 was a tragedy waiting to happen. Safety standards in Indian aviation have been on the wane for the last six years. Efforts are on to correct the drift, but the systemic rot is so deep and corruption levels are so high, we are not likely to see any improvement in safety unless drastic changes are made. In December 2009, a Kingfisher Airlines aircraft overshot the runway at the Mumbai airport while landing in rain. The regulatory oversight of safety standards is poor, and training standards are deteriorating.

The touchdown was reported to have happened too late. The 8,000-feet runway was more than sufficient for a Boeing 737-800. The aircraft went through the perimeter wall at high speed. A normal touchdown takes place between 1,400 feet to 1,800 feet from the start of the runway. The AIE aircraft is reported to have touched down close to 3,000 feet down the runway. This accident is a result of complacency in the system.

This is an example of an approach-and-landing accident, with a late touchdown at a higher than normal speed. This compulsion to continue with the approach points to a certain level of fatigue-induced decision. The crew had operated for the better part of the night, and the accident happened early in the morning. The DGCA has to scrutinise the safety and training standards of the airline. Does it have the right personnel manning crucial posts?

India needs an independent air safety board and an independent regulator. The claim that we are very safe and nothing less than 100 per cent is acceptable - an oft-repeated statement by the Minister of Civil Aviation - has been blown to bits. Circumventing safety standards to accommodate the commercial interests of operators has cost the lives of more than 150 people. We need transparency in the system.

The directives in a recent DGCA circular on Approach and Landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) have to be pushed through on a war-footing. The number of close shaves that have been witnessed in the last few years highlights the fact that there is something seriously wrong with the system. (Captain A. Ranganathan the author is an airline instructor pilot with extensive flying experience, and a consultant in the field of accident prevention.)

ESG had fought a legal battle against 2nd runway Deccan Herald May 24
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/71064/esg-had-fought-legal-battle.html 
 
The Mangalore airport design simply did not conform to the most basic national and international standards of airport design.
The Airport Authority of India decided to expand the Mangalore Airport allegedly buckling to the pressure created by the business lobby in 1987.

A more appropriate location for the expansion of the airport, could/would have been towards north from the existing runway.  However, this option was not even considered as the acquisition of such lands would displace about 70 large landholding families, most being highly connected politically.

The basic strip has a 100 metres drop. Mere 200 metres available for the basic strip of the runway instead of the minimum required width of 300 metres. This is standard for pilots to land or take off on the strength of instrument support and without sighting the runway This width mandatory to provide for instrument or human error. This standard also provides for emergency evacuations measures.

Nine mtpa MRPL is situated within 4 kms while standards prescribe that the refinery should be 8 kms
High Tension Transmission Line at 1.5 km away
while it should be at least 3 kms from the runway.

Environment group blames air crash on faulty runway construction Times of India, May 22, 2010
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Environment-group-blames-air-crash-on-faulty-runway-construction/articleshow/5963047.cms

The second runway in Mangalore could not meet the standards required in dealing with an emergency, particularly during landing and takeoff. Even though alternative sites existed, Saldhana said, the authorities proceeded obstinately to expand the airport, yielding to pressure from politicians, and business, real estate and hotel lobbies that benefited immensely from an airport at Bajpe.

The airport did not conform to the minimum safeguards for emergency situations, particularly during landing and takeoff, neither did it have emergency approach roads on all sides as required. The site chosen for expansion at Bajpe was surrounded by deep valleys on three sides of the runway and did not provide for emergency landing areas as required.

Short, narrow Bajpe runway fraught with risks: Experts TOI, Mon, May 24
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Mangalore/Short-narrow-Bajpe-runway-fraught-with-risks-Experts/articleshow/5966688.cms 
Aerospace experts say flat terrain should be the first choice for an airport and table-top runways only in an "absolute no-choice situation".

The runway does not have adequate stopway in case of an emergency %u2014 there is a stopway alright but not long enough to protect the aircraft in case of overshooting or an engine problem, or any other technical glitch during landing or take-off. The stopway is about 500ft after the runway length of 8,000ft %u2014 which means the pilot gets about 8,500ft max. The entire strip of land on which the runway rests is 9,000ft, after which is a deep drop into a gorge.

"In case of overshooting, the runway cannot be extended beyond 9,000ft simply because there is no land at all. So 500ft of stopway would be too little for an aircraft to rescue itself while landing at high speed," say aero experts.

A strip longer than 8,000ft is not possible at Bajpe. Second, the runway width does not fulfil regulations. From its centrepoint, the runway should be 150metres wide on either side, which adds up to 300 metres, while the strip at Bajpe is 100metres each. The width is recommended by International Civil Aviation Organisation document, said to be the "Bible for runway construction".

In an emergency situation
, an aircraft would fall into the deep gorge on either side of the runway if it slips while landing.

The airport also does not have an exit that in an emergency would help passengers rush out
, or allow rescue teams. An airport should have a minimum of 600 acres.

Was pilot fatigue a factor in the crash? The Hindu Mon, May 24, 2010
http://www.hindu.com/2010/05/24/stories/2010052459941300.htm
%u201DArchaic" 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."

"Flying is not all about advanced technology, it is about man-machine interface," says a retired Air India pilot who was earlier a pilot with the Indian Air Force. He pointed out that while the regulations on Flight and Duty Time Limitations [FDTL], issued in December 1992, prescribe a flying time of nine hours and 12 hours of duty time (inclusive of flying time), they do not take into account the 'time-of-day factor.' Flying during the nighton a graveyard shift - is not the same as flying during the day, when the human body can remain alert longer," he said.

More significantly, the regulations do not take into account the fact that pilots flying across time zones undergo "significantly more stress." The pilot might%u2019ve undergone cumulative stress over a period of time

There is no doubt that pilots consider workplace regulations to be not only unscientific but also loaded in favour of airline companies. Commercial interests, they say, have been allowed to influence the regulatory regime governing working conditions of pilots.

The disaster at Mangalore is a clear indication that airline pilots' working conditions are no longer a bilateral issue to be sorted out between the airlines and their employees. At stake are very important issues of public interest, including those related to public safety.

'Incorrect' flight path could have caused Mangalore crash: AAI official TOI, May 23, 2010
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Mangalore/Incorrect-flight-path-could-have-caused-Mangalore-crash-AAI-official/articleshow/5964817.cms

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Air-crashes-Tired-pilots-crew-a-recipe-for-disaster/articleshow/5963763.cms 
Up to 78% of fatal air crashes are caused by human error, of which a majority are because of pilot fatigue, according to the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association. Could this also have caused the Mangalore crash?

The jury is still out on that one, but internal communications of Air India Express accessed by TOI clearly show that a shortage of staff was forcing cabin crew to exceed the limit on flying hours imposed by the directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA). Besides, most airlines are going in for quick turn-around (QTA) flights at night, further raising pilots' stress and fatigue levels.

The crew of Flight IX 812 had left Mangalore at 8pm and flew more than four hours to reach Dubai. Soon, they were busy with walk-around inspections, fuel checks, and weather confirmation. By the time the routine checks were over, passengers were ready to board the flight for the return journey.

"Such schedules are extremely tiring. And this can have dangerous consequences," says a pilot. Airline sources also claimed that AI Express pilots too don't get adequate rest between two legs of flights because of a similar shortage.

The DGCA has prescribed a limit of 1,000 flying hours annually so that the cabin crew is always fresh and alert for any emergency on a flight.

Airline sources said AI Express flies three to four-hour long flights on nearby international routes. "There's hardly any breathing period between the outbound and inbound journeys. In such a case, human psychology may make pilots - out of fatigue - go in for the time-consuming practice of go-arounds. The DGCA has ruled in favour of airline operators by reducing pilots' rest period and increasing duty time so that they can get more work for same or even less pay. It's time passenger safety gets precedence over commercial interests of airlines," said a senior pilot.

Risk, stress take sheen off being cabin crew Times of India Mon, May 24 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Risk-stress-take-the-sheen-off-being-cabin-crew/articleshow/5966681.cms 

Before the AI Express Mangalore crash, nightmare came in the form of shady hotels that the cabin crew had to check into for night stays. In April 2010, the airline downgraded the quality of hotel accommodation given to flight attendants.

In Middle-Eastern countries, no accommodation is provided as the flight attendants fly back in the same aircraft. The hotel accommodation downgrade came with recession and other airlines like Jet Airways too have followed suit.

Pilot's quick response makes all the difference Times of India May 23
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangalore/Pilots-quick-response-makes-all-the-difference/articleshow/5964054.cms
The/Their terrain makes Mangalore and Calicut two of India's most difficult airstrips to land on. The runways at these airports are much shorter than others around the country.

Aviation is all about having alternatives should anything go wrong
. But when it's relatively short, if adequate, runway with a valley or the sea (Goa) lying just beyond, there are few alternatives if a plane overshoots.

The ill-fated Air India Express 812 crashed into the forested valley once the pilot lost control. The pilot in command (PIC) of Flight 812 was a Briton of Serbian ethnicity and on contract with the airline. It is unclear how well he understood Mangalore Air Traffic Control's heavily accented English.

He had many flying hours but this does not mean the ability to handle untoward situations. The pilot's quickness and sureness when it comes to a response is what matters when mere seconds mean the difference between life and death.

In any discussion on human error, it is worth considering most cabin crews' work hoursFatigue is an ever-present part of the aviation professional's life. It may be different on paper but flying has become like many other jobs that want value for money, or more hours in exchange for fat salaries. (The writer was an air hostess with SpiceJet for two years)

Mangalore Air Crash Tragic Fallout of Criminal Negligence of Planning and Regulatory Authorities
http://www.esgindia.org/campaigns/bajpe/press.html 
It is reported that the plane overshot the runway while landing and fell over a cliff resulting in this disastrous crash.

The site chosen for expansion at Bajpe was surrounded by deep valleys on three sides of the runway and did not provide for emergency landing areas as required.

Even though alternative sites existed, the authorities proceeded obstinately to expand the airport yielding to pressures from business, real estate and hotel lobbies who benefited immensely from an airport at Bajpe. Politicians keen to make the expansion a part of their legacy overlooked all concerns raised. Even at the existing Bajpe alternative sites existed to expand the airport, that conformed with most safety norms, but this site was not pursued as it would affect large landholders and influential people.

They could have easily explored alternate sites, as such sites did exist - within Bajpe itself, or even in Padubidri, between Mangalore and Udupi. Instead, the authorities preferred to view the Supreme Court order as a victory, as did the Karnataka Government and Mangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry or MCCI which had systematically campaigned for the expansion. The runway was built in comprehensive violation of applicable laws, standards and direction of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

On 8th March 2004, the ESG and VNVVS wrote to Dr. Naseem Zaidi, Chairman (Addl. Charge) & Joint Secretary, Airport Authority of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, reminding him of the need to comply with the Supreme Court direction. In particular the ESG and VNVVS highlighted on On 8th March 2004 that "such action would jeopardize passenger safety, put local communities to risk, needlessly dislocate people by acquiring land on a location that in no way could comply with the said provisions and thereby contributed to gross wastage of public money and resources." They did not get any response.

Airport location: NGO to move court Times of India
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Airport-location-NGO-to-move-court/articleshow/5966676.cms 
NGO Environment Support Group (ESG) said it would move the high court for an inquiry into the viability of operations at the Bajpe airport in Mangalore and seek its relocation.

ESG representative Leo Saldanha told TOI: "We are considering the need to reopen cases on the airport that have gone before the court in 1997-98 and 2002-03. We hope to move the court within the next week."

"We want an inquiry into the viability of the current airport in the light of the natural risks it poses to travellers. We are seeking relocation of the airport to a flat terrain to ensure it is safer."

India today is frenetically building airports all over, and for all sorts of flaky reasons. Such is the political, bureaucratic and corporate pressure to build and expand airports that anyone questing the rationale is quickly dubbed as a "busybody", "useless interloper", "promoted by vested interest" and raising "frivolous" concerns.

That such a crash has occurred at the Mangalore airport is unpardonable as a similar crash had occurred at this airport over a decade ago.

To ensure such incidents do not recur, we demand that the Union Minister of Civil Aviation orders an impartial Commission of Enquiry into the causative factors of this crash, especially investigating the absolute lack of conformance with basic runway design standards and emergency approach measures. Criminal negligence proceedings may/shall please be initiated  against all authorities connected with the decision to commission the 2nd runway at Mangalore in violation of the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.  Taking these corrective actions would serve as a deterrence against the lackadaisical approach to critical decisions by key decision makers.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This petition's been addressed to the Hon'ble Supreme Court, President, Prime Minister, Karnataka Governor / Chief Minister / CM, Airports Authority of India or AAI, Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA & Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Last Update: Mon, May 24, 2010 at 18:50 hrs Indian Std. Time
http://www.petitiononline.com/mangalor/
http://www.esgindia.org/campaigns/bajpe/press.html
158 killed as plane crashes at Mangalore The Hindu Sun, May 23, 2010
Mangalore Crash - Plane crashes after overshooting the runway at Mangalore International Airport. Flight: Air India Express IX-812 (Dubai to Mangalore) Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 (Inducted in 2008) On Board: Passengers: 160 Crew: 06
http://www.hindu.com/2010/05/23/stories/2010052360150100.htm

Photo The Hindu
Mangalore air crash at a glance Times of India, May 22, 2010 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Mangalore/Mangalore-air-crash-at-a-glance/articleshow/5962728.cms 
Accident happened : 6.30am
The runway: It is a brand new runway. The Mangalore airport is situated on a hillock, and the runway is built on a flat stretch of land, with either ends of the runway sloping downwards. So, if a pilot misjudges his landing or take-off, the aircraft will overshoot the runway and go downhill. Which is what seems to have happened to Air India Express flight IX-812.
Length: 5,800 ft (1,740 mts) Runway elevation: 336 ft (101 mts)
The weather: What was the weather like during the crash?
No rain, wind calm but there was dense fog over the airport. Visibility was only 6 km, more than that required.
Passengers: Total: 166 (137 adults, 19 children, 4 infants and 6 crew)
Survivors: 7
Plane facts
State-of-the-art Boeing 737-800 inducted on Jan. 15, 2008.
Piloted by Serbian expatriate Capt Zlatko Glusica.
Glusica (55) had 10,000 hours of flying experience.

Theory 1
It overshot the runway after it landed. The plane didn't stop after landing. Could it be a tyre burst?

Theory 2
The aircraft overshot the runway, hit the fence and went beyond the boundary wall of the airport, broke and went up in flames.

Safety lessons yet to be learnt - The Hindu Sun, May 23, 2010
http://www.hindu.com/2010/05/23/stories/2010052362941000.htm
This accident is a result of complacency in the system
It
 was a tragedy waiting to happen. Safety standards in Indian aviation have been on the wane for the last six years. Efforts are on to correct the drift, but the systemic rot is so deep and corruption levels are so high, we are not likely to see any improvement in safety unless drastic changes are made. In December 2009, a Kingfisher Airlines aircraft overshot the runway at the Mumbai airport while landing in rain. The regulatory oversight of safety standards is poor, and training standards are deteriorating.

The touchdown was reported to have happened too late. The 8,000-feet runway was more than sufficient for a Boeing 737-800. The aircraft went through the perimeter wall at high speed. A normal touchdown takes place between 1,400 feet to 1,800 feet from the start of the runway. The AIE aircraft is reported to have touched down close to 3,000 feet down the runway. This accident is a result of complacency in the system.


This is an example of an approach-and-landing accident, with a late touchdown at a higher than normal speed. This compulsion to continue with the approach points to a certain level of fatigue-induced decision. The crew had operated for the better part of the night, and the accident happened early in the morning. The DGCA has to scrutinise the safety and training standards of the airline. Does it have the right personnel manning crucial posts?


India needs an independent air safety board and an independent regulator. The claim that we are very safe and nothing less than 100 per cent is acceptable - an oft-repeated statement by the Minister of Civil Aviation - has been blown to bits. Circumventing safety standards to accommodate the commercial interests of operators has cost the lives of more than 150 people. We need transparency in the system.


The directives in a recent DGCA circular on Approach and Landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) have to be pushed through on a war-footing. The number of close shaves that have been witnessed in the last few years highlights the fact that there is something seriously wrong with the system. (Captain A. Ranganathan the author is an airline instructor pilot with extensive flying experience, and a consultant in the field of accident prevention.)

ESG had fought a legal battle against 2nd runway Deccan Herald May 24
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/71064/esg-had-fought-legal-battle.html 
 
The Mangalore airport design simply did not conform to the most basic national and international standards of airport design.
The Airport Authority of India decided to expand the Mangalore Airport allegedly buckling to the pressure created by the business lobby in 1987.


A more appropriate location for the expansion of the airport, could/would have been towards north from the existing runway.  However, this option was not even considered as the acquisition of such lands would displace about 70 large landholding families, most being highly connected politically.


The basic strip has a 100 metres drop. Mere 200 metres available for the basic strip of the runway instead of the minimum required width of 300 metres. This is standard for pilots to land or take off on the strength of instrument support and without sighting the runway This width mandatory to provide for instrument or human error. This standard also provides for emergency evacuations measures.


Nine mtpa MRPL is situated within 4 kms while standards prescribe that the refinery should be 8 kms
High Tension Transmission Line at 1.5 km away
while it should be at least 3 kms from the runway.

Environment group blames air crash on faulty runway construction Times of India, May 22, 2010
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Environment-group-blames-air-crash-on-faulty-runway-construction/articleshow/5963047.cms

The second runway in Mangalore could not meet the standards required in dealing with an emergency, particularly during landing and takeoff. Even though alternative sites existed, Saldhana said, the authorities proceeded obstinately to expand the airport, yielding to pressure from politicians, and business, real estate and hotel lobbies that benefited immensely from an airport at Bajpe.


The airport did not conform to the minimum safeguards for emergency situations, particularly during landing and takeoff, neither did it have emergency approach roads on all sides as required. The site chosen for expansion at Bajpe was surrounded by deep valleys on three sides of the runway and did not provide for emergency landing areas as required.


Short, narrow Bajpe runway fraught with risks: Experts TOI, Mon, May 24
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Mangalore/Short-narrow-Bajpe-runway-fraught-with-risks-Experts/articleshow/5966688.cms 
Aerospace experts say flat terrain should be the first choice for an airport and table-top runways only in an "absolute no-choice situation".


The runway does not have adequate stopway in case of an emergency %u2014 there is a stopway alright but not long enough to protect the aircraft in case of overshooting or an engine problem, or any other technical glitch during landing or take-off. The stopway is about 500ft after the runway length of 8,000ft %u2014 which means the pilot gets about 8,500ft max. The entire strip of land on which the runway rests is 9,000ft, after which is a deep drop into a gorge.


"In case of overshooting, the runway cannot be extended beyond 9,000ft simply because there is no land at all. So 500ft of stopway would be too little for an aircraft to rescue itself while landing at high speed," say aero experts.


A strip longer than 8,000ft is not possible at Bajpe. Second, the runway width does not fulfil regulations. From its centrepoint, the runway should be 150metres wide on either side, which adds up to 300 metres, while the strip at Bajpe is 100metres each. The width is recommended by International Civil Aviation Organisation document, said to be the "Bible for runway construction".

In an emergency situation
, an aircraft would fall into the deep gorge on either side of the runway if it slips while landing.

The airport also does not have an exit that in an emergency would help passengers rush out
, or allow rescue teams. An airport should have a minimum of 600 acres.

Was pilot fatigue a factor in the crash? The Hindu Mon, May 24, 2010
http://www.hindu.com/2010/05/24/stories/2010052459941300.htm
%u201DArchaic" 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."

"Flying is not all about advanced technology, it is about man-machine interface," says a retired Air India pilot who was earlier a pilot with the Indian Air Force. He pointed out that while the regulations on Flight and Duty Time Limitations [FDTL], issued in December 1992, prescribe a flying time of nine hours and 12 hours of duty time (inclusive of flying time), they do not take into account the 'time-of-day factor.' Flying during the nighton a graveyard shift - is not the same as flying during the day, when the human body can remain alert longer," he said.

More significantly, the regulations do not take into account the fact that pilots flying across time zones undergo "significantly more stress." The pilot might%u2019ve undergone cumulative stress over a period of time

There is no doubt that pilots consider workplace regulations to be not only unscientific but also loaded in favour of airline companies. Commercial interests, they say, have been allowed to influence the regulatory regime governing working conditions of pilots.

The disaster at Mangalore is a clear indication that airline pilots' working conditions are no longer a bilateral issue to be sorted out between the airlines and their employees. At stake are very important issues of public interest, including those related to public safety.

'Incorrect' flight path could have caused Mangalore crash: AAI official TOI, May 23, 2010
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Mangalore/Incorrect-flight-path-could-have-caused-Mangalore-crash-AAI-official/articleshow/5964817.cms

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Air-crashes-Tired-pilots-crew-a-recipe-for-disaster/articleshow/5963763.cms 
Up to 78% of fatal air crashes are caused by human error, of which a majority are because of pilot fatigue, according to the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association. Could this also have caused the Mangalore crash?


The jury is still out on that one, but internal communications of Air India Express accessed by TOI clearly show that a shortage of staff was forcing cabin crew to exceed the limit on flying hours imposed by the directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA). Besides, most airlines are going in for quick turn-around (QTA) flights at night, further raising pilots' stress and fatigue levels.


The crew of Flight IX 812 had left Mangalore at 8pm and flew more than four hours to reach Dubai. Soon, they were busy with walk-around inspections, fuel checks, and weather confirmation. By the time the routine checks were over, passengers were ready to board the flight for the return journey.

"Such schedules are extremely tiring. And this can have dangerous consequences," says a pilot. Airline sources also claimed that AI Express pilots too don't get adequate rest between two legs of flights because of a similar shortage.


The DGCA has prescribed a limit of 1,000 flying hours annually so that the cabin crew is always fresh and alert for any emergency on a flight.


Airline sources said AI Express flies three to four-hour long flights on nearby international routes. "There's hardly any breathing period between the outbound and inbound journeys. In such a case, human psychology may make pilots - out of fatigue - go in for the time-consuming practice of go-arounds. The DGCA has ruled in favour of airline operators by reducing pilots' rest period and increasing duty time so that they can get more work for same or even less pay. It's time passenger safety gets precedence over commercial interests of airlines," said a senior pilot.


Risk, stress take sheen off being cabin crew Times of India Mon, May 24 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Risk-stress-take-the-sheen-off-being-cabin-crew/articleshow/5966681.cms 


Before the AI Express Mangalore crash, nightmare came in the form of shady hotels that the cabin crew had to check into for night stays. In April 2010, the airline downgraded the quality of hotel accommodation given to flight attendants.


In Middle-Eastern countries, no accommodation is provided as the flight attendants fly back in the same aircraft. The hotel accommodation downgrade came with recession and other airlines like Jet Airways too have followed suit.


Pilot's quick response makes all the difference Times of India May 23
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangalore/Pilots-quick-response-makes-all-the-difference/articleshow/5964054.cms
The/Their terrain makes Mangalore and Calicut two of India's most difficult airstrips to land on. The runways at these airports are much shorter than others around the country.

Aviation is all about having alternatives should anything go wrong
. But when it's relatively short, if adequate, runway with a valley or the sea (Goa) lying just beyond, there are few alternatives if a plane overshoots.


The ill-fated Air India Express 812 crashed into the forested valley once the pilot lost control. The pilot in command (PIC) of Flight 812 was a Briton of Serbian ethnicity and on contract with the airline. It is unclear how well he understood Mangalore Air Traffic Control's heavily accented English.

He had many flying hours but this does not mean the ability to handle untoward situations. The pilot's quickness and sureness when it comes to a response is what matters when mere seconds mean the difference between life and death.

In any discussion on human error, it is worth considering most cabin crews' work hoursFatigue is an ever-present part of the aviation professional's life. It may be different on paper but flying has become like many other jobs that want value for money, or more hours in exchange for fat salaries. (The writer was an air hostess with SpiceJet for two years)

Mangalore Air Crash Tragic Fallout of Criminal Negligence of Planning and Regulatory Authorities
http://www.esgindia.org/campaigns/bajpe/press.html 
It is reported that the plane overshot the runway while landing and fell over a cliff resulting in this disastrous crash.


The site chosen for expansion at Bajpe was surrounded by deep valleys on three sides of the runway and did not provide for emergency landing areas as required.

Even though alternative sites existed, the authorities proceeded obstinately to expand the airport yielding to pressures from business, real estate and hotel lobbies who benefited immensely from an airport at Bajpe. Politicians keen to make the expansion a part of their legacy overlooked all concerns raised. Even at the existing Bajpe alternative sites existed to expand the airport, that conformed with most safety norms, but this site was not pursued as it would affect large landholders and influential people.


They could have easily explored alternate sites, as such sites did exist - within Bajpe itself, or even in Padubidri, between Mangalore and Udupi. Instead, the authorities preferred to view the Supreme Court order as a victory, as did the Karnataka Government and Mangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry or MCCI which had systematically campaigned for the expansion. The runway was built in comprehensive violation of applicable laws, standards and direction of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

On 8th March 2004, the ESG and VNVVS wrote to Dr. Naseem Zaidi, Chairman (Addl. Charge) & Joint Secretary, Airport Authority of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, reminding him of the need to comply with the Supreme Court direction. In particular the ESG and VNVVS highlighted on On 8th March 2004 that "such action would jeopardize passenger safety, put local communities to risk, needlessly dislocate people by acquiring land on a location that in no way could comply with the said provisions and thereby contributed to gross wastage of public money and resources." They did not get any response.

Airport location: NGO to move court Times of India
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Airport-location-NGO-to-move-court/articleshow/5966676.cms 
NGO Environment Support Group (ESG) said it would move the high court for an inquiry into the viability of operations at the Bajpe airport in Mangalore and seek its relocation.

ESG representative Leo Saldanha told TOI: "We are considering the need to reopen cases on the airport that have gone before the court in 1997-98 and 2002-03. We hope to move the court within the next week."

"We want an inquiry into the viability of the current airport in the light of the natural risks it poses to travellers. We are seeking relocation of the airport to a flat terrain to ensure it is safer."

India today is frenetically building airports all over, and for all sorts of flaky reasons. Such is the political, bureaucratic and corporate pressure to build and expand airports that anyone questing the rationale is quickly dubbed as a "busybody", "useless interloper", "promoted by vested interest" and raising "frivolous" concerns.

That such a crash has occurred at the Mangalore airport is unpardonable as a similar crash had occurred at this airport over a decade ago.

To ensure such incidents do not recur, we demand that the Union Minister of Civil Aviation orders an impartial Commission of Enquiry into the causative factors of this crash, especially investigating the absolute lack of conformance with basic runway design standards and emergency approach measures. Criminal negligence proceedings may/shall please be initiated  against all authorities connected with the decision to commission the 2nd runway at Mangalore in violation of the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.  Taking these corrective actions would serve as a deterrence against the lackadaisical approach to critical decisions by key decision makers.
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This petition's been addressed to the Hon'ble Supreme Court, President, Prime Minister, Karnataka Governor / Chief Minister / CM, Airports Authority of India or AAI, Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA & Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

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