On May 22, 2010, an Air India Express plane overran the runway at Mangalore Airport and fell into a gorge. The crash claimed 158 lives, leaving only eight survivors.
A court of inquiry into the crash concluded that the direct cause of the accident was the aircraft’s captain’s failure to abort the “unstabilized approach” and his persistence in continuing the landing despite three calls from the co-pilot to turn back and a number of warnings from the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System.
The Mangalore airport “table runway” aggravated the accident. A table track is a track built on an elevated, plateau-like surface where it is higher than the surrounding terrain and its slopes effectively turn them into a gorge. As these gorges are uneven and can be deep, rescue and rescue operations are affected in the event of an accident.
Here we revisit five other major Indian air disasters.
1. Kanishka bombing in 1985
Air India Express Flight 182, called Kanishka, exploded in mid-air while traveling from Toronto in Canada to Mumbai in India. All 329 people in the flight were killed.
In 2006, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called it “the worst mass murder in Canadian history”.
The bomb had been secretly planted inside the plane by Khalistan terrorists and exploded during the flight over the Atlantic Ocean, according to a Business Today report. It is the worst air accident in Canadian history and one of the worst to have affected India.
2. Charkhi Dadri’s air crash
Two planes from Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan collided in the sky over Charkhi Dadri district in Haryana on November 12, 1996, killing at least 349 people in the deadliest mid-air collision in history .
Pilot error was found to be the cause of the accident. Investigators found that the Kazak Airlines plane had been ordered by air traffic control to fly at 15,000 feet, but the pilots made an unauthorized descent to 14,000 feet, causing the collision, according to a report by the Hindustan Times.
The Airports Authority of India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation both said the Kazakh pilots failed to understand the air traffic controller’s repeated instructions and Delhi’s approach regarding the plane’s approach Saudi on the collision course due to their poor knowledge of the English language, according to a Rediff report.
3. The Arabian Sea crash, 1978
An Air India Boeing 747, named Emperor Ashoka, crashed into the Arabian Sea on January 1, 1978, killing all 213 people on board.
The plane crashed two miles from shore and just four minutes after takeoff. The crash was apparently the result of pilot error and equipment malfunction, according to an article on History.com.
The qualifications of the pilots were also questioned. The pilot had been grounded in 1975 for uncontrolled diabetes and excessive alcohol consumption and drinking the day before the flight made him more susceptible to disorientation, a US court has heard, according to a 1985 UPI report .
4. The Air India crash at Mont Blanc, Europe
An Air India Boeing 707 crashed near the summit of Mont Blanc in the European Alps, killing all 117 people on the plane.
The plane was going from Bombay to New York. One of the passengers who died in the crash was Indian scientist Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the father of India’s nuclear program. The accident remains a mystery to this day and a number of theories have surfaced over the years, which include a possibility of sabotage by the US intelligence agency CIA to derail India’s nuclear programme.
Pilot error was blamed on the crash, according to a French investigation cited by The Print.
5. The Kozhikode accident, 2020
An Air India Express B737-800 plane overran the runway while landing at Kozhikode airport and fell into a gorge, killing 21 people on board, including the two pilots.
Investigators discovered that pilot error was the cause of the disaster.
The report, quoted by India Today, revealed that “the probable cause of the accident was the non-compliance with SOPs by the PF (pilot flying), in which he continued an unstabilized approach and landed beyond of the touchdown zone, halfway down the runway, despite the call ‘Go Around’ by the PM (pilot monitoring) which justified the ‘Go Around’ and the PM’s failure to take control and to perform a ‘Go Around’.”
The crash has been compared to the 2010 Mangalore crash due to the table track, which is common in Mangalore and Kozhikode.