Authorities are blaming pilot error for a Boeing 737 crash Saturday that killed 158 people in India, according to The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/world/asia/23crash.html?hp=&pagewanted=all
Just eight of the 160 passengers and six flight crew members survived the crash at Mangalore’s airport, which is considered one of India’s “trickiest,” according to The Times. The airport is on the southwest coast of India.
It appears that the pilot of the Air India plane overshot the hilltop runway at Mangalore, which would make pilot error the cause of the disaster. But aviation experts were also saying that all the blame can’t be laid on the pilot. They said that India’s lax safety inspections, poor pilot training and an airport location that’s begging for trouble most likely also played a part in the crash.
The aircraft was on its way from Dubai when the pilot, according to officials, missed the so-called landing threshhold at the Mangalore airport. The plane then went off the runway, a new one, and hit a concrete structure. The plane’s wing was ripped off and the aircraft fell into a valley, according to The Times.
One survivor said that when the plane hit the ground, its tire blew out, and then a fire broke out. The plane filled with smoke, the survivor said, and he fled to safety through a crack in the fuselage.
The Times story goes into detail about the troubles that India’s aviation industry faces, because there’s been a boom in start-up commercial airlines and an explosion of air passengers. It’s been hard for Indian aviation regulators to keep pace with that growth.
In addition, in the past critics, such as the Environmental Support Group, have sued and charged that the Mangalore airport’s site isn’t suitable for larger jets to safely land. But those suits were dismissed by Indian courts.
Saturday’s crash was “no accident, but a direct result of the series of deliberate failures of officials and key decision makers,” the Environmental Support Group said in a statement.