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Plane’s black box found, crash probe begins; AI says pilots were experienced
Published on 24 May. 2010 12:07 AM IST
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A day after the Mangalore air crash claimed 158 lives, the Air India Sunday defended its pilots, asserting they were experianced and well rested, as the shocked families, many of them from Kerala, went through the painful task of identifying their loved ones and conducting their last rites.
At least 146 bodies, mostly charred beyond recognition, were identified by the families by Sunday evening, Air India chairman-cum-managing director Arvind Jadhav said in Mangalore.
Emotional scenes were witnessed at Wenlock Hospital in Mangalore as grieving relatives and friends went through the traumatic experience of looking at scores of badly burnt bodies to identify them. For the kin of around dozen victims, the wait may be longer as DNA tests will be necessary to establish their identity.
The Air India Express IX 812 Dubai-Mangalore flight overshot the runway Saturday morning while landing at the Bajpe airport, about 20 km from Mangalore, and caught fire after plunging about 300 metres off a cliff.
There were just eight survivors in one of the worse tragedies in Indian aviation history. All eight are said to be out of danger. In Wenlock hospital, most of the victims’ relatives were too numbed to talk and preferred to be left alone to grieve. The bodies of Mumbai-based co-pilot Capt. H.S. Ahluwalia and Thane’s airhostess Tejal Kamulkar were also identified.
DGCA probe
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) late Sunday began investigating the crash of the Air India Express Boeing 737-800 (VT-AXV) after the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and a part of the black box containing the digital flight data acquisition unit (DFDAU) were handed over to it by the search party. “The aircraft’s CVR has been recovered. Though affected by fire, it is expected to yield the desired information,” the regulator said in a statement here.
Though DFDAU, a parallel unit of the digital flight data recorder (DFDR), which records flight parameter for shorter duration has also been recovered, search for the latter (DFDR) is continuing,” the statement pointed out.
“Analysis of CVR and flight data will be conducted in the next fortnight. Similarly, analysis of records pertaining to the crash will take a couple of weeks,” a probe official told IANS, citing the statement.
Experienced pilots
Air India Sunday asserted that the pilot and co-pilot of its Boeing 737 aircraft were experienced and well-rested and requested media not to speculate on the cause of the accident.
“No, both were well-rested,” Air India chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav said in response to a question on whether pilot fatigue could have caused the crash, one of the worst aviation disasters in the country in a decade.
AI compensation
Jadhav also announced an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of those aged above 12 killed in its plane crash here and Rs five lakh for those below that age pending final settlement of insurance claims. The injured would get Rs two lakh.
There have also been some incidents in Dimapur airport on occasions. During mid-March 2009, a Kolkata-Dimapur Airbus 300 approached touchdown from Chathe river side. Usually, the approach is from the other end. The plane touched down a little ahead of the normal point and when the reverse thrust was applied, the plane swayed from side to side. Passengers feared for the worst. Somehow the plane finally managed to stop almost at the edge of the end of the runway.

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