Flight MH370 crashed in the forests of Peninsular Malaysia ?

 By Jacob K Philip

The decision taken today to shift the main area of search to the west for the missing flight MH370 of Malaysia Airlines may be the first major step in the right direction to solve the puzzle of the lost plane. Looking more intently at places other than South China Sea is a wise move. But if the search parties continue to ignore the land mass of peninsular Malaysia, the final answer to the puzzle could evade them further.

Because, by all probabilities, the crashed aircraft would be somewhere in the forests in the districts of Terengganu or Kelantan in peninsular Malaysia.

Actually, from day first itself, there were ample indications for this.

The Radars
The radar of Flightradar24 had plotted the path of the aircraft only up to the point of Lat: 6.97 & Lon: 103.63 in the South China Sea area around 1.41, Saturday morning. At that point, the elevation was 35,000 feet, Airspeed 471 knots, track 40 degrees. MH370 simply vanished next second. The location was South-East of Thochu Island and between the Marang coast of Malaysia and the cape of Ca Mau of Vietnam. By 8th morning, with news of the missing flight spreading fast, the images of this plotted path as captured by Flightradars24 too had been shared by many.

mh370fr24But Malaysian Air Force soon released the path of the same aircraft from their own radar. That was a little longer. And it was seen in that the plane turning almost 180 degrees to align with track 230. After the turning, the plane vanished from the military radar too.
This discrepancy between the two radar recordings was soon explained by flightradar24 in their face book page:

Today there are reports in media that MH370 may have turned around. FR24 have not tracked this. This could have happened if the aircraft suddenly lost altitude as FR24 coverage in that area is limited to about 30000 feet. FR24 have not tracked any emergency squawk alerts for flight MH370 before we lost coverage of the aircraft.

So there was a sudden loss of altitude, just before the aircraft taking the U turn. Why the drop and why the drastic turn? Reasons could be many. Encountering a sudden turbulence and falling in an air pocket could be one explanation. The fall could have been be so severe that it reached some 20,000 feet within seconds. The drastic drop might have damaged the very structure of the aircraft and many passengers aboard would have suffered injuries. Assessing the severe damages to the plane and considering the passenger injuries, the Captain would have decided to go back home- for an emergency landing. By then the integrity of the fuselage too could have been compromised. Rapid depressurization would have necessitated loosing altitude further. That explains the vanishing of the plane from air force radar after the turn. The turn and fall could also because of some hijacker demanding that. But the hijackers-on-board theory has been discarded by now by the Interpol and the Malaysian Police.

Now see this report by Bernama:

Eight villagers (of Marang) here lodged police reports Tuesday claiming that they had heard a loud noise last Saturday coming from the direction of Pulau Kapas. One of them, Alias Salleh, 36, said he and seven fellow villagers were seated on a bench about 400 metres from the Marang beach at 1.20 am when they heard the noise, which sounded like the fan of a jet engine. “The loud and frightening noise came from the north-east of Pulau Kapas and we ran in that direction to find out the cause. We looked around the Rhu Muda beach but did not see anything unusual,” said the lorry driver.

It may be remembered that Marang and Pulau Kapas are exactly along the plotted flight path of MH370.
Note the ‘loud noise’ and the direction ( ‘from Pulau Kapas’) from which that came. It is obvious that, the plane, having turned towards the land of Peninsular Malaysia, flew past the villagers at a low altitude, in the direction of Kuala Lumpur.
But why there were no communication to the ATC?

Reasons could be the two:
1. The pilots could have been be too preoccupied with getting things under control. A damaged fuselage, severely injured passengers, and failing/failed systems.
2. Time was too short. The aircraft eventually crashed a few kilometers away.

But is it possible for a crashed aircraft to go unnoticed by the villages for four days?

The answer to this question is the crash of Kenyan Airways flight 507 , a brand new Boeing 737-800 in the night (01:06 local time)of 5 May 2007. Immediately after take off from Douala International Airport, Cameroon, the plane crashed in to a small forest just 5.4 km away from the end of the runway. (It was established later that a series of errors committed by the pilots had caused the crash) .The plane hit the ground almost vertically, nose first and by the force of the impact, considerable length of the fuselage penetrated deep in to the swamp. All 114 on board were killed. The signals emitted from the craft were so mangled that, all the search for the craft were concentrated in an area 120 km away from the runway. It was almost after two days, by the evening of May 7, that a hunter accidentally spotted the crashed plane in the forest.

Elimination of other causes
All the other possibilities like terror attack, hijack or mid air disintegration etc. have been eliminated by now : The passengers with stolen passport were kids with no crime records or terror connections; The plane had not landed at any airport/airstrip and there were no communication by possible hijackers; no widespread debris could be found neither on land or in sea.
So the only plausible explanation remaining is a crash on land away from populated areas.

And this provides a satisfactory explanation to something else also: The reported ringings of the mobile phones of many passengers even after two days of the disappearance of the flight.

(Jacob K Philip,  a Kochi based aviation analyst, is the editor of Indian Aviation News Net. He can be reached at jacob@indianaviationnews.net)
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Clapping & whistling onboard: If charged, Kerala Strikers can get 1 year imprisonment

By Jacob K Philip

The troubles of the 28 members of Kerala Strikers, the celebrity cricket team, who were deplaned at Kochi airport by the Commander of a Kochi-Hyderabad Indigo Airlines flight, are far from over.

If the Indigo Airlines Commander is to follow proper procedure, there are every chances for all the Strikers to get booked soon. And if the charges are proved, they might get a punishment of one year imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs 5 lakhs.

It was aboard Indigo Airlines Kochi -Hyderabad Flight 314 that the drama unfolded on Friday afternoon. As per the media reports, while the air hostesses were busy giving flight safety demonstration inside the aircraft, just before takeoff, the Strikers clapped and whistled loudly. Some other passengers said to have objected the behavior of the team. Feeling offended and insulted, the cabin crew rushed to the Captain and complained. The Captain in turn informed the ATC and brought the aircraft back to the apron and ordered the celebrity cricket team out.
Later, the organizer of the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) told the media people: “There’s no rule that says you can’t clap on board. Clapping is not a crime. We didn’t misbehave with anyone.”

Clapping is of course no crime. But disturbing the crew of an aircraft definitely is. Especially when the crew were performing a crucial duty directly related to the safety of the aircraft.

See the 23rd & 22nd rules of Indian Aircraft Rules (1937):

Rule 23
Assault and other acts endangering safety or jeopardizing good order and discipline.–
(1) No person shall, on board an aircraft, ─
(a) assault, intimidate or threaten, whether physically or verbally, any person,
(b) intentionally cause damage to or destroy any of property,
(c) consume alcoholic beverages or drugs,
which is likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft or of any person or jeopardizes the good order and discipline on board the aircraft.

Rule 22:
Assault and other acts of interference against a crew member – No person shall, on board an aircraft, ─
a) assault, intimidate or threaten, whether physically or verbally, a crew member which may interfere with the performance of the duties of the crew member or lessens the ability of the crew member to perform those duties;
b) refuse to follow a lawful instruction given by the Pilot-in-Command, or on behalf of the Pilot-in-Command by a crew member, for the purpose of ensuring the safety of the aircraft or of any person or property on board or for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board.

If the Kerala Strikers indeed had clapped and whistled while the safety demo was on, it is obvious that they are guilty of violating the above rules.

Now, can the Commander decide to not to proceed further with the issue?
Of course not.
As per a circular (F.No. AS/CABIN SAFETY/CIRCULAR/2010 CABIN SAFETY CIRCULAR NO. 2 OF 2010) released by DGCA on 27th January, 2010, it is mandatory for the Commander to report such incidents without any delay.

This is to reiterate that the procedure to report incidents of unruly/disruptive passenger is same as that for any reportable incident. However for the benefit of all concerned the reporting procedure is as below:
All incidents are to be reported to Director Air Safety – Headquarters (Cabin Safety Division) and in addition to Director Air Safety / Regional Controller Air Safety in whose region the flight lands after the incident.
The information is to be immediately reported by Chief of Flight Safety/Cabin Crew Nodal Officer (telephonically) as above and written information should be submitted within 12 hours of the landing of the aircraft as per the enclosed performa.

The penalty too is there in the rules. See schedule VI of the Aircraft Rules 1937 .

Offences punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or with fine not exceeding five lakh rupees, or with both.

(Jacob K Philip,  a Kochi based aviation analyst, is the editor of Indian Aviation News Net. He can be reached at jacob@indianaviationnews.net)
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Now anyone can bid for Air India Operations site

The operations website, airindiaops.com, that Air India has been maintaining for the last 14 years is now down for 17 days.

Reason: The national carrier could not renew the site before the date of expiry, 2013-11-15.

The site, which was the only online source of  information regarding crew rostering, training schedule, advisories, announcements etc was a sort of intranet site used religiously by thousands of cabin crew, pilots and ground staff from across the globe. The applications for leave could filed through this site, incidents could be reported and the full duty schedule for the next week could be downloaded.

Now the crew get this pagewhen trying to login.

The re-directed page inserted by the hosting company (Network solutions) now displays advertisements to raise some revenue. The following announcement also is there:

airindiaops.com expired on 11/13/2013 and is pending renewal or deletion.

And now any one can bid for the domain.

Just go to this page.

Minimum bid amount is $647 and starting bid was 69 $USD.

And be quick. The bidding will close on December 18.

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Now take this: An International Airport where only ATR-42 can operate

By Jacob K Philip

The recent awarding of Environmental Clearance for the controversial airport project at Aranmula, Kerala, is nothing less than a joke.

The gist of the proposal, M/s KGS Aranmula Airport Ltd had placed before Ministry of Environment & Forests was this:

“Development of Airport at Mallappuzhasserry, Aranmula and Kidangannur villages, Kozhencherry Taluk, Patthanamthitta District, Kerala on a plot area of 500 Acres to cater to air bus A – 300 aircraft. The length of the run-way in the first phase will be 2800 mtr. x 45 mtr. Construction will have G+1 floor of terminal building of 1250 sq.m. in phase I and 15000 sq.m. in phase II.”

And what the Ministry now permits to build?

From the approval letter the ministry has sent to the promoters:

10. SPECIFIC CONDITIONS:

(iii) Though the site is not a wetland, in view of the presence of various plants species, Proponent shall fill only minimum area required for runway, apron,taxiway etc and the remaining area will be preserved in its natural form as committed. Only the area required for runway 1000 x 150 mts shall be filled with 1 mt height…”

That is, the total length of the runway basic strip is only 1000 m.  Because it is mandatory to leave 90 m on both ends of the runway as RESA (Runway End Safety Area),  the total effective length of the runway  will be 180 m less.

So what is the length of runway  KGS people are actually getting instead of the 2800 m they asked for ?

Just this much: 1000-180 = 820 m

And what kind of an aircraft will be able operate from this 820 m runway?

That is the most difficult question the promoters will have to find an answer for themselves- that is, if they really are determined to build an airport at Aranmula.

The smallest aircraft scheduled airlines have in these parts of the world is ATR-42-300. The minimum runway length (Take off field length) required for this 45 seater turbo prop aircraft is 1040 m. But this is for a runway at sea level altitude, with no wind along the runway and with an atmospheric  temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. When the temperature and elevation are higher, runway length required would be more. With wind also, the aircraft would require to run longer.

So the only option left for the airlines would be to operate the ATR with a load penalty – that is with reduced capacity.

And in India, how many airlines operate ATR-42-300 aircraft?

Only Air India.

The maximum distance the aircraft can fly non-stop is only 840 Nautical Miles (1556 km).  So there is no question of international operations.

And can KGS expand the airport after a few years of operation, so that airlines could operate aircraft like A300 from here to foreign destinations?

The answer is a firm no.

See these two paragraphs from the MoEF letter:

“Proponent shall fill only minimum area required for runway, apron, taxiway etc and the remaining area will be preserved in its natural form as committed. ”

“Only minimum area required for runway, apron, taxiway etc would be filled and the remaining area will be preserved in its natural form. The previous owner had filled the runway of 1000 x 150 mts for airstrip. Therefore, only the area required for runway 1000 x 150 mts will be filled to a height of one meter and the soil required forland filling will be met from the elevated area of about 14.5 acres available within the site itself.”

So what really the M/s KGS Aranmula Airport is getting in the end?

A very small airport with 820 m runway from which only Air India operates a few domestic flights. The Terminal building will also be too small because the maximum number of passengers the airport will be handling per day will be some 60-80.

Now see one of the numerous news reports on the proposed International Airport getting MoEF approval:

.. Promoted by KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd, the Rs 2,000-crore project has witnessed stiff resistance from both the political Opposition and environmentalists….  For the first phase, 500 acres of land have been acquired. Work will start soon and the airport will be ready for commercial operations in December 2015. There is no compulsory eviction of even one cent of land, George reiterated. All land acquired has been bought at market price. An integrated airport city will be developed with a Special Economic Zone. A multispecialty hospital, shopping mall, hotels and an international school are the other planned facilities. George said Malaysian Airport Holdings, Emirates, AD Paris and Changi Singapore are being invited to bid for airport operation. The airport’s ‘influential zone’ will be close to multiple tourism destinations such as Kumarakom and the backwaters of Alappuzha. It is only an hour away from Sabarimala, the second largest pilgrim centre in the country….

Really ?

(Jacob K Philip is an aviation analyst based at Kochi, India. He also edits Indian Aviation News Net. He can be reached at jacob@indianaviationnews.net) 

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Air India Express Flight 4422: No Aviation Rule to Charge Passengers

Court acquits 2009 Indigo Airlines ‘hijack’ case accused of hijack charges; Conviction only for communicating false information that endangered passengers

By Jacob K Philip

Hijack or no hijack, it is next to impossible to prosecute any of the passengers who were aboard the controversial Air India Express Flight 4422,  on October 19, 2012, on the basis of Aviation rules of the land.

The conviction on Thursday of a Chartered Accountant who three years back had caused a hijack scare aboard an Indigo Airlines flight, makes this all the more evident.

On February 1, 2009, Jitender Kumar Mohla (45) announced aboard the Indigo Airlines flight that was flying from Delhi to Goa that he was hijacking the aircraft.

Though he was accused of trying to hijack the aircraft, Mohla is now convicted not under Anti-Hijacking Act, but section 3(1)(d) of the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation and 336/506/170 of the IPC. He got acquitted of charges under the Anti-Hijacking Act as “nothing incriminating was found in his possession when he was arrested. And there were no evidence on record to show that the accused entered the cockpit”.

Now let us examine again the ‘hijack’ case of Air India Express Abu Dhabi – Kochi Flight which landed at Thiruvananthapuram on October 19 morning after being diverted from Kochi. The passengers got agitated when the Pilot made the announcements that they had to make their own arrangements to reach Kochi and that she was leaving the aircraft because her flight duty time limit was exceeded. The furor that followed ended in the Pilot sending an emergency transponder signal and telling the Control Tower that the situation was ‘Hijack Like”.

It was already made evident that, because the aircraft was not in flight, the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 could not be  invoked.

The only remaining act applicable is “The Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982”, just as it was for the Mohla case.

Here is what the act has to say about the possible offenses aboard an aircraft:

CHAPTER II, OFFENSES

3. Offense of committing violence on board an aircraft in flight, etc. —

(1) Whoever unlawfully and intentionally —

 (a) commits an act of violence against a person on board an aircraft in flight which is likely to endanger the safety of such aircraft; or

(b) destroys an aircraft in service or causes damage to such aircraft in such a manner as to render it incapable of flight or which is likely to endanger its safety in flight; or

(c) places or causes to be placed on an aircraft in service, by any means whatsoever, a device or substance which is likely to destroy that aircraft, or to cause damage to it which renders it incapable of flight, or to cause damage to it which is likely to endanger its safety in flight; or

(d) communicates such information which he knows to be false so as to endanger the safety of an aircraft in flight, shall be punished with imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

 (2) Whoever attempts to commit, or abets the commission of, and offense under subsection (1) shall also be deemed to have committed such offense and shall be punished with the punishment provided for such offense.

Now,  (1) (a) is not applicable because the aircraft was not in flight.

(1) (b) also does not come in to play because no damage was done to the aircraft.

(1) (c) is not relevant as no device that can endanger the aircraft was involved in the incident

(1) (d) also is irrelevant as it deals with an aircraft in flight and no false communication was made by anyone.

The other two offenses listed in the act are the following:

3A. Offense at airport

4. Destruction of, or damage to, air navigation facilities.

3A deals obviously with incidents outside an aircraft and 4 is again not applicable because no navigational facilities were damaged.

That means no aviation safety law is violated by the passengers .

Now it is up to the local Police to invoke or not the sections of Indian Penal Code based on the written complaint of the Pilot-in-Command of the aircraft.

– jacob@indianaviationnews.net

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Why No One Can Charge the 6 Passengers of Air India Express Flight 4422

By Jacob K Philip

It now has become more evident that Capt. Rupali Waghmare, the Pilot-In-Command of Air India Express flight 4422 was gravely at fault when she informed the young Controller at duty at Thiruvananthapuram Air Traffic Control in the morning hours of  Friday the 19th that her aircraft was in a hijack like situation.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Abu Dhabi to Kochi was being diverted to Thiruvananthapuram in the early morning hours because of poor visibility at Kochi. Because the Captain, who had exceeded her flight duty time soon after landing, allegedly told the passengers that they would have to travel to Kochi on their own. The fracas then followed eventually culminated in the Captain telling the ATC over R/T that there was a hijack like situation aboard, though the transponder button She had pressed was  7700 indicator of ‘Emergency’.

The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 (65 OF 1982), clearly indicts the Captain who deliberately told the ATC man that  the situation was hijack like.

This is how the Act defines a Hijack(Chapter II -3):

Whoever on board an aircraft in flight, unlawfully, by force or threat of force or by any other form of intimidation, seizes or exercises control of that aircraft, commits the offence of hijacking of such aircraft.

That means, only an aircraft in flight can be hijacked.

And what is a flight?

See the next paragraph of the Act:

“an aircraft shall be deemed to be in flight at any time from the moment when all its external doors are closed following embarkation until the moment when any such door is opened for disembarkation..”

Now see these news reports:

According to airport officials, some of the aircraft’s passengers also alighted the aircraft and stood around it while waiting for the flight to take off.

 A fracas broke out between the passengers and crew members when the commander, a woman pilot, with 22 years of international flying experience, opened the cockpit’s cabin door to disembark from the aircraft.

So the doors of the plane were opened already for disembarkation.

A ceased flight and a nonexistent hijacking.

So there never was a case against the six passengers the Pilot named in her complaint. And there never was any need for the Police to question them.

And the ATC people also can never be blamed.  Because the Commander of the aircraft had uttered the word hijack while talking with them over R/T, they had absolutely no choice but to initiate all the actions assuming that the aircraft had already been hijacked (Directive 36.7.2 Operations Manual of AICL, Issue 1, 24.04.2012) – even if they had seen from the tower that the doors of the craft already were opened and some passengers had disembarked.

If there still is a case, it ought to be charged against only one person- The PIC of Air India Express flight 4422.

– jacob@indianaviationnews.net

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The Hijack That Never Was: Captain Responsible for the Fiasco

‘H word’ Overruled the Code; Controllers Acted by the Manual

 By Jacob K Philip

It is learnt that  the specific usage of the word “Hijack” by Capt. Rupali Waghmare that triggered all the anti-hijack procedures at Thiruvananthapuram Airport on Friday when the  Abu Dhabi-Kochi Air India Express flight 4422 she had been commanding was parked at the airport.

It also has become evident that the transponder code the Captain used was not the one that indicates a hijack.

Trouble started at 7 am on Friday when the flight landed at the capital city airport after being diverted from Kochi because of poor visibility. The Passengers protested on being told they would have to travel by road to Kochi and went in to agitated arguments with the flight crew. Then Capt. Rupali send an hijack alert to air traffic control, it was reported.

Though the transponder code from the aircraft received by the radar at Thiruvananthapuram control tower was 7700, indicator of (technical) emergency, the young controller was being compelled to initiate the anti-hijack procedures because the captain had spoken to him over the Radio Transmitter that there was a HIJACK LIKE SITUATION on board.

Because the word ‘HIJACK’ had been uttered, the controller had absolutely no choice, but to initiate the process of the post-hijack drill that eventually  did cause so much inconvenience to the passengers of the plane who already had been taxed beyond their endurance.

And the well experienced Captain could never have not known the implications of the word.

The rule 36.7.2 of the Operations Manual (Issue 1, 24.04.2012) of Air India Charters Ltd, a copy of which is with Aviation India, tells thus:

Use of phrase “HIJACK” can also be used when possible and the ground stations will take it to mean “I have been hijacked”, and initiate necessary action and give assistance to aircraft.

Operations Manual, Air India Charters Ltd

From the Operations Manual of Air India Charters Ltd, the Company that owns Air India Express

But then why she did not use the 7500 transponder code indicating “Unlawful Interference” or hijacking?

Only two possibilities could have been  there:

  1. It was just a mistake. She pressed  button 5 instead of 7
  2. It was a deliberate attempt to evade responsibility

If number two was the case, we can see that she has  succeeded to an extent. Only yesterday that Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh vouched for her telling the media people that the pilot sounded only an emergency alert (read  7700).

It is also pointed out that to handle a situation like that, there never were the need to talk to the control tower, switching on the R/T. There were  ample facilities for the pilot whose aircraft was parked at the airport, to communicate with the airline’s staff or with the security personnel. But when the Captain preferred  to talk with the ATC instead, the very character of the whole situation altered dramatically.

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Mangalore Crash: Yet Another New Evidence Surfaces

Aviation India Demands Reopening of Air India Express Flight 812 Crash Investigation

By Jacob K Philip
It has now become clear that the Court of Inquiry that investigated the crash of Air India Express Flight 812 on May 22, 2010 had never considered a vital evidence that would have altered the very character and course of the investigation.
The  ‘Flying Programme’ of Air India Express for the period of  17/05/2010 to 23/05/2010, a copy of which is now with Aviation India, throws light to the following facts:

  • Capt. Zlatco Glusica, the Serbian Captain of the crashed aircraft was drawn in last minute to command the flight.
  • The flights to and from Dubai (flight No. 811 & 812) were supposed to be training flights for Capt. Ahluwalia, who was due for a hike to Commander level.

In the programme, that was prepared on 13 May 2010, the name of the First Officer of the flight of course can be read as  A. H. Ahluwalia. But in the column where the name of the commander was to be typed in, what appears is just three letters: TRG.
TRG means training. Should be commander training for Ahluwalia. But why the actual name of the Pilot in Command was not printed? Might be because Air India Express people were undecided about the person, when the schedule was prepared. But when it was actually decided to fill that gap with Capt. Glusica? When did Capt. Glusica, who had returned to India only on May 18 after a vacation in his country, was informed of this decision? Answers to these questions are very crucial because, in their eagerness to put all the blame on Capt. Glusica, the Court of Inquiry had repeatedly stated in the report that the Captain had slept , atleast for 100 minutes, in the return flight, inspite of  getting adequate rest prior to the flight. And according to the CoI, the inertia caused by that sleep was the main cause of the accident.

From the Report:

The contributory factors (of the crash) were:
(a) In spite of availability of adequate rest period prior to the flight,the Captain was in prolonged sleep during flight, which could have ledto sleep inertia. As a result of relatively short period of time between hisawakening and the approach, it possibly led to impaired judgment. Thisaspect might have got accentuated while flying in the Window ofCircadian Low (WOCL).
(b) In the absence of Mangalore Area Control Radar (MSSR), due toun-serviceability, the aircraft was given descent at a shorter distance onDME as compared to the normal. However, the flight crew did not planthe descent profile properly, resulting in remaining high on approach.
(c) Probably in view of ambiguity in various instructions empoweringthe ‘co-pilot’ to initiate a ‘go around’, the First Officer gave repeatedcalls to this effect, but did not take over the controls to actuallydiscontinue the ill-fated approach.

What if Capt.Glusica was informed of the flight only some hours before?
What if he had not slept for the previous day being not aware of the sudden change in schedule?What if the Captain was not physically well after the long journey back India?
The scope of investigation of the CoI had never entered these zones exactly because this particular schedule mysteriously had escaped their notice.
The significance of the three letters, ‘TRG’ is in addition to this.
If it indeed was a flight in which the eligibility of Capt. Ahluwalia to get promoted to the post of Commander was to be checked, many of an observations and accusations  the Court of Inquiry had put forward regarding the unhealthy ‘steep gradient of authority’ in flight 812’s cockpit suddenly becoming null and void.
A TRG flight justifies Capt. Glusica’s decision to pay not much heed to the first officers suggestions.
A TRG flight makes it clear why  Ahluwalia never took over controls.
A TRG flight again makes it obvious why the Commander allowed the First Officer to do almost all the R/T communications.
The flying Programme of Air India Express for the period of 17/05/2010 to  23/05/2010 clearly is a new and material evidence on the basis of which a reopening of the investigation of the crash of Flight 812 can be ordered.

Jacob K Philip is Editor of Aviation India. He can be reached at jacob@indianaviationnews.net

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Reopen Mangalore Crash Investigation

By Jacob K Philip
Editor, Aviation India

The investigation of the 2011 May 22 crash of Air India Express Flight 812 must be reopened.

The Indian Government should discard the the biased, incomplete and erroneous whitewash of a report submitted on April 26, 2011 by the Court of Inquiry and should immediately order a reinvestigation.

The demand for the urgent reopening of the inquiry of the tragic crash in which as many as 158 lives had perished is perfectly in accordance to the rule of the land.

On 2009 March 13, the Government of India had inserted vide GSR No. 168(E)  a very important rule to ‘The Aircraft Rules 1937’, which govern everything aviation in this country.
Here is the rule:

75A. Reopening of InvestigationWhere it appears to the Central Government that any new and material evidence has become available after completion of the investigation under rule 71, 74 or 75, as the case may be, it may, by order, direct the reopening of the same.

The series of six articles published in Aviation India and Decision Height from  May 15  to June 2011 make it abundantly clear that there are enough new and material evidence that make the reopening of the investigation absolutely necessary.

Here is a list of those new and material evidence:

  1. The fact that a huge portion of the wreckage was taken away from the crash site by locals and was sold as scrap metal. What the Court of Inquiry was inspected and studied (if at all they had done any study) was the remaing wreckage. ( Read the article..)
  2. The reconstruction of the wreckage was never actually done by the CoI. The image of the reconstructed wreckage included in the report was a computer generated one. (Read The Article..)
  3. While testifying before the court of Inquiry at Mangalore airport, Six survivors of the crash were made to answer a totaly biased and misleading question by the CoI. The question was, “Do you think the accident occurred because of the fault of the pilot?”This was in plain violation of Rule 7.2.1 of the Manual of Accident/ incident investigation: ‘ The investigation of aircraft accidents and incidents has to be strictly objective and totally impartial and must also be perceived to be so’. (Read The Article..)
  4. The “ Hard Landing” circular issued by Air India is a major contributor to the accident. The CoI had chosen to ignore this vital fact. (Read The Article..)

All the above four new & material evidence had already been elaboarted in the articles published by us.
But there still are more new evidence & facts the CoI never bothered to find out.
We are publishng that new evidence tomorrow.

(Jacob K Philip can be reached at jacob@indianaviationnews.net)

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Mangalore Crash Inquiry Report: A Desperate Attempt to Save the Skin of AAI Also

Airports Authority of India is guilty of both erecting a concrete structure at runway end and providing not enough rest for the ATCs
(Mangalore Crash Report – Hidden Factors: 2)

By Capt. A. Ranganathan
When Air India Express Flight 812 crashed in the early morning of May 22, 2010, 158 lives were consumed by fire caused when the wing of the aircraft broke after it struck the concrete structure on which the ILS Antenna was mounted.

Thanks to the ‘smoke screen’ on Page 36 of the CoI report, the fact that the structure was erected there violating all the safety norms is very well camouflaged.

ICAO Annex 14, governs the Standards for Aerodromes. In Chapter 3, under section 3.5 comes Runway End Safety Area ( RESA). The Annex specifies that “ Runway End Safety Area SHALL be provided at each end of the runway strip.

The Dimensions of the Runway end Safety Area

3.5.2   A Runway End Safety Area shall extend from the end of a runway strip to a distance of at least 90m.

3.5.3  Recommendation – A runway end safety area should, as far as practicable, extend from the end of a runway strip to a distance of at least  –  240m where the Code number is 3 or 4

Objects on runway end safety areas

3.5.6 An object on runway end safety area which may endanger aeroplanes should be regarded as an obstacle and should, as far as practicable, be removed.

ICAO has recommended the higher figure of 240m taking into account that most runway overruns take place within 300m beyond the end of the runway. The term “ as far as practicable” would apply for an obstacle which exists naturally and not a man made structure. Considering that Mangalore runway is on a table-top terrain and with the area beyond the strip difficult for rescue operation, the RESA should have been 240m long. When the fatal accident took place, the arrow of guilt pointed to this structure. An effort has been made to portray that there did exist an area 240m beyond the end of the runway. The different statements on Page 36/175 shows their confused mind:

At the time of accident , there was a Basic strip of 60m followed by RESA of 180m ( now reduced to 175m).  After the end of the 237m within RESA, a concrete structure had been constructed on which ILS Localiser antenna is mounted.

Now see the extract of Page 36 of CoI report:

This is another clumsy attempt to cover-up a dangerous safety infringement. The figures of 180m or 175m do not appear anywhere in the ICAO Annex 14 under the heading Runway end safety area. Someone has attempted to indicate the figure of 240m ( 60 = 180 ) was provided but realised that the concrete structure was at 237m. Hence, the figure was reduced to 235m ( 60 + 175 ). A further precaution to protect a wrong structure is the falling back on the figure of 90m x 90m, which is the mandatory figure as per Annex 14 while 240 is a recommendation.

The report goes on to state : After the accident, the ILS was recalibrated on 16th June 2010. The damaged structure was rebuilt with another rigid structure within three weeks of the fatal accident !

Did they realize that the danger for all operations continue from that date? Was the DGCA right in renewing the license for the airport with this dangerous structure?

There is a DGCA C.A.R for Aerodrommes from which the following are extracts:

SERIES ‘F’ PART I

16th October, 2006 EFFECTIVE: FORTHWITH

SUBJECT: REQUIREMENTS FOR ISSUE OF AN AERODROME LICENCE.

4.6 The applicant for the aerodrome to be licenced for Public Use shall

demonstrate the functional arrangements and their integration for provision of CNS-ATM, RFF, AIS, meteorological and security services.

4.7 Final inspection shall be undertaken for on site verification of data,

checking of the aerodrome facilities, services, equipment and procedures to verify and ensure that they comply with the requirements.

4.8 The aerodrome licence shall be issued by the Aerodrome Standard Dte. after approval of DG under the appropriate category, if the DGCA is satisfied that applicant has complied with all relevant requirements. In case of the non-compliance of the requirement by the applicant, licence may either be refused or granted with limitations/ restrictions / conditions as deemed appropriate by the DGCA, provided that in such cases the overall safety is not compromised.

13. OBSTACLE LIMITATION SURFACES

Enclose obstacle limitation charts including type ‘A’ chart for the aerodrome including the details of obstructions, which are marked and lighted.

13.1 Objects in operational areas and their frangible type

a) Runway Strip

b) Stopway

c) Clearway

d) RESA

13.2 OBSTACLES

POSITION OF OBSTACLE

HAZARD TO FLYING

The license given to Mangalore is suspect and officials who conducted the safety audit have made a sham of the inspection. The concrete structure was definitely a hazard to flying and it is surprising if item 13.2 of the Application form was filled up otherwise.

Licensing done by DGCA in 2007 and Surveillance inspection done two days before the accident. It is pure divine grace which has prevented more fatal accidents in Mangalore.

Extract of Page 39 of CoI report:

The highlighted portions of the extract clearly spells out the danger to all aircrafts operating in and out of Mangalore. The dangerous structure on which the ILS antenna is mounted is present. The Rescue and Fire fighting is not possible outside the airport perimeter. Yet, officials of DGCA and AAI have certified that the airport with the present facilities is safe!

The other important factor is the fatigue factor of the Air Traffic controllers. Their shifts are designed to keep them on a continuous 12 hour duty period during the night. They are also exposed to the Window of Circadian low which would result is erroneous or delayed response. On the day of the crash, the ATCO has stated that the end of the runway was not visible and he has given instructions to the aircraft to back track as was the “ normal” practice ! The ATCO was not even aware that the aircraft had crashed !

The entire report on the crash appears to put the blame on the Captain alone. All the other agencies involved in contributing to the death of 158 persons has been blanked out in the smoke-screen. The danger persists and lessons have not been learnt.

(Captain A. Ranganathan is a member of India’s Safety Advisory Committee of the Aviation. The aviation safety expert and veteran pilot has more than 20,000 hours of flying experience to his credit.

Capt. Ranganathan can be reached at mohlak@gmail.com).

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