On 22/5/2010 at 6.03 a.m. Air India Express Boeing 737-800 plane crashed at Mangalore Airport. It crossed the table top runway and spill over area of 90 metres and fell below. Of the 166 people on board, 158 died.
In August 1981 there was a similar air crash. That day it was raining and visibility was poor. A Boeing 737 came off the runway and fell down. It was prevented from going further down by a boulder. Nobody died. Among the survivors was Veerappa Moily, then a minister in Karnataka Government, now India’s law minister. That runway was different. The damaged plane became a tourist site till it was removed.
Death is a tragedy. More so when the dead body can not be identified and family members have to wait for a week or more to get DNA results. If the seat numbers had been noted when the bodies were removed it could have spared some trouble.
What went wrong? Visibility was 6 km. There was no rain. As per one report there was drizzle. The plane overshot the touchdown zone. Was it pilot’s mistake? Was Instrument Landing System at fault? Could approach radar have averted the tragedy? If the spill over area had been 120 metres would it have made a difference? What happened to the black box? We need to know the answers.
Nine people missed the flight or did not board the flight and survived.
Some had warned against the table top runway when airport expansion was undertaken. Nandikuru was proposed as a site for airport. That was rejected.
There is need to develop a system to recognise bodies when they are charred beyond recognition. That will lessen the agony of family members who have to wait for a long time to identify the body.
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