Sunday, May 23, 2010

India offers compensation to victims- says safety record good

Budget international arm of Air India, an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 aircraft ¬ FltIX-812 inducted in Jan 2008- carrying 160 passengers and six crew from Dubai overshot the runway (May 22) and burst into flames in Mangalore in the state of Karnataka in south India. This is the worst accident in India in the past 10 years.

Four passengers escaped with minor injuries, three with major injuries and one unhurt. The Director General of Civil Aviation is conducting an inquiry into the cause of the crash.

“India has had a long unblemished record for several years. Unfortunately, this incident has saddened all of us and we are deeply shocked and pained,” Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said in a press conference after visiting the crash site in Mangalore. Patel announced compensation will be paid to deceased passengers according to the Montreal Convention to which Indian is a signatory.

146 bodies recovered include that of Serbian commander, Zlatko Glusica - with 10,200 hours of experience- and two female crew members have been found, civil aviation secretary Madhavan Nambiar said.

“There have been 32,000 landings at Mangalore airport since 2006,” Nambiar added.

“Air India Express Flight No. 812 was following Instrument Landing Approach (ILS) for landing on runway 24 and the pilot reported to ATC that it is established on ILS approach at about 10 miles from touch down. Landing clearance was given at about 4 miles from touch down. Aircraft touched down the runway 24 slightly beyond the touch down zone, overshot the runway and went in the valley beyond the runway,² says a civil aviation
ministry statement.

Mangalore airport is situated at the top of a hill and has earned the name 'table top' as it is encircled by deep gorges at a distance of just 30 m. A local television network showed flames and thick smoke billowing from a forested area after the plane slammed through a boundary wall and fell into a ravine.

The Mangalore airport is a licensed airport with runway (24) length, 2450 m. (approx. 8000 ft). The runway has an end safety area of 90 m. The first concrete runway in the state was commissioned in 2006 and remained operational since then. The ILS was operating and no problem was reported by pilot, adds the statement.

In the past it has been difficult to take-off and land from the airport during rains. The visibility at time of landing was 6 Km., calm wind and no rain at the time of incident.

A statement by the U.S to India Timothy J. Roemer offered condolences. "I was saddened to hear this morning of the tragic crash of Air India Express flight 812 from Dubai to Mangalore, and of the loss of so many. We have reached out to the Government of India to express our condolences and to offer any appropriate assistance."

“Boeing wishes to express its profound condolences of those injured. Boeing is sending a team to provide technical assistance to the investigation at the invitation of the Indian authorities,” a Boeing spokesman said.

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