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The last 30 minutes of the plane that crashed at Mangalore

The last 30 minutes of the plane that crashed at Mangalore / NDTV

Mangalore:  Early morning on May 22, the Air Traffic Control of the Mangalore airport began communicating with a flight that was coming in from Dubai.  Half an hour later, the Air India flight crashed after the pilot overshot the runway. 158 people were killed.


The transcripts of that final half-hour exchange between the pilot and the ATC.  The conversation suggests there was nothing to indicate that the plane was heading into trouble, till the very end. 
This is the pilot talking to the ATC Area Control

TIME: 5.30 AM
EXPRESS INDIA 812: What is the weather like?
ATC (Area Control): Wind: Calm. Visibility: 6 km. Clouds: Few at 2000 feet. Temperature: 27. Dew Point: 26
EXPRESS INDIA 812: Runway 24. And confirm we are identified on radar
ATC (Area Control): Radar not available sir
In fact, the Mangalore airport’s radar had not been working for two days- since May 20. The radar is a navigational aid.  Flights can take off and land without it, but that increases the workload and pressure on the ATC.

We come to the last leg of conversation where the flight has established contact with the ATC Tower to land .
DATE: MAY 22, TIME: 5:54 AM
EXPRESS INDIA 812: Express India 812 Good morning
DATE: MAY 22, TIME: 6:04 AM
ATC (Tower): Wind calm. Runway 24. Clear to land
EXPRESS INDIA 812: Clear to land, Express
14 seconds later, this is a voice the ATC controller hears from the cockpit.
DATE: MAY 22, TIME: 6:04
VOICE FROM COCKPIT: Go around Captain
This seems to be the most critical part of the conversation, according to pilots we spoke to. They say  the ATC heard the co-pilot telling the pilot to go around - which means miss the landing, and let’s come back again.  The pilot decided against that.

Apparently not perturbed with the situation in the cockpit , since go around manoeuvres do happen occasionally , the ATC issued standard instructions for the jet once it landed on how to exit the runway.

DATE: MAY 22, TIME: 6:04
ATC (Tower): Express India 812 backtrack runway 24. Vacate via Delta
DATE: MAY 22, TIME: 6:05
Less than 20 seconds later... the ATC heard just the word CONTROL... which they now say was possibly a panicky voice from the cockpit
Within minutes IX812 was a ball of fire. 

Courtesy: NDTV

Co-pilot’s cries went in vain

’’Control!’’ This was the last word the Mangalore Air Traffic Control (Mangalore Tower) heard from the cockpit of the ill-fated Dubai-Mangalore Air India Express flight IX-812 on the morning of May 22, 2010. 

It wasn’t the voice of the pilot (Captain Z Glusica) who generally communicates with ATCs. It was the panic voice of co-pilot H S Ahluwalia and addressed not to the ATC but to his Captain. Seemingly, it was the co-pilot’s desperate attempt to tell the pilot to control the aircraft that went out of control as it made the touchdown on the new runway 24 at the Mangalore airport.

The panic word came at exactly 6.05.21 am, according to the transcript of the communication between the Mangalore ATC and the pilot for 33 minutes preceding the fatal crash. Seconds before this, the co-pilot had advised the Captain thus: “Go around Captain.” The ATC heard these words from the cockpit at 6.04.38 am–45 seconds before the last word (“Control”) was heard. Probably, the co-pilot was asking his captain to abort landing. But it was too late.

Within eight seconds after it heard the voice “control,” the Mangalore ATC sent two messages to the pilot. But there was no response. Obviously, the aircraft had crashed into the steep valley at the end of the runway and 158 passengers and crew members met with a tragic end. 

Nineteen seconds (at 6.04.19 am) before the co-pilot’s suggestion to “go around,” the ATC in Mangalore Tower had informed the pilot that the “wind is calm and Runway 24 is clear to land”. Three seconds later, the pilot confirmed his decision to land as he passed a message to Tower that “Clear to land (Air India) Express.”

The transcript between the Mangalore ATC and pilot of the ill-fated aircraft, released by the Court of Inquiry, formed to probe into the cause of accident to Boeing 737-800 aircraft, on the second day of public hearing in the Old Terminal Building of the Mangalore Airport on Wednesday, throws light on the last 33-minute conversation.

Presuming that the aircraft has landed safely, the ATC passed a message: “Express India 812 back track runway 24, vacate via Delta” (asking the pilot to return to apron via Delta taxiway).

In earlier conversations, when the pilot asked the Mangalore Control to confirm whether the aircraft is on radar at 5.37.18 am, the Mangalore Area Control reported within 4 seconds (at 5.37.22 am) that radar was not available. Sources in the airport said that radar is not mandatory for landing operations.

DH News

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