Did an early arrival cause the Air India Express to crash at Mangalore? Day one of the proceedings into the Mangalore Air Crash has revealed two shocking truths- one it did not land on schedule and secondly the radar at the airport was non functional at the time of the crash.
A special court of inquiry set up on the directive of the DGCA to probe the horrific Mangalore air crash which claimed over a 100 lives on May 22 back commenced its hearing at the Bajpe airport on Tuesday. During the course of the hearing on Tuesday it was reported for every 100 times, the plane has landed beyond schedule 49 times. Even the ill fated plane landed ahead of schedule and this point prompted the commission of inquiry to raise questions
When the commission questioned whether this landing before or after schedule did not cause any problems, Girish Kamath, Watch Supervisory officver at the ATC said that this is creating a problem. He further said that the radar was not functioning at the time of the crash. He said due to this the procedures were being undertaken manually two days before the crash.
He further pointed out that the ATC reopens at this airport at 6 AM after the earlier staff complete their shift at 5.30 AM. He however added that there were 9 staff at the time of the crash and this was not a problem and they could have managed it well. However there was a problem since the plane landed slightly before schedule. When the commission asked him whether he had complained to Air India regarding this problem, he said no.
Mahesh Pai, duty officer at the ATC during his deposition said that he had seen a fire ball near the localiser before the crash and he even triggered the sire and contacted other officials. He however added that at such crucial times, it is the pilot who is the best judge.
On the visibility at the airport at the time of the crash Ronald John of the Meteriological department said that the visibility was good. The wind was calm, there was no drizzle and the runway was dry.
The commission of inquiry which is headed by B N Gokhale and six others recorded the statements of 20 witnesses on day one