'Re-investigate M'lore plane crash incident'

The 812 Foundation which was formed post Mangalore plane crash incident of 2010, has demanded a re-investigation into the incident as the Court of Inquiry (COI) findings on the same were highly 'massaged' and did not reveal the right reasons. 

Speaking to press persons here on Saturday, Foundation President Yeshwanth Shenoy alleged that the CoI report by Air Marshal Bhushan Nilkanth Gokhale did not reveal the right reasons either due to incompetence or could be an intentional cover up. 

The report covered up the flaws of Airport Authority of India (AAI), both in having an illegal structure at the end of runway and the inability of the fire and rescue teams to reach the spot quickly. He was also critical of the approach of judiciary in the matter pointing the courts never entertained any petition which was filed earlier to the incident inviting its attention on the lack of adequate safety measures at Mangalore airport.
 Shenoy contended that if all safety norms were adhered to, only a few lives could have been lost, but not the catastrophic figure of 158. "According to rule, the radar at the airport should be built only by a frangible object with the objective that if in case any plane hits the radar, it easily breaks down thus causing no damage to the plane. But in Mangalore, it was mounted on a concrete platform which was illegal. And within Runway Safety Area (RASA) which is 180 metre for Mangalore, no non-frangible construction is allowed. But the said concrete construction was inside RASA and after the tragedy, the permissible distance was cut short to 175 metre with a motive to exonerate AAI of the homicide charges as the plane caught fire after its wings hit the concrete platform." 

Alert since 1997

The 812 Foundation President said that since 1997 the impending safety threats pertaining to Mangalore airport were brought to the notice of officials and courts, but to no avail. A local resident, Arthur Pereira in 1997 had filed a writ petition in Karnataka High Court alerting that in case of an aircraft undershoots or over-runs the runway, there is no required space and the plane would crash down the hillside. The petition was dismissed in 1997 and in 2003. When Pereira filed the same as a special leave petition in Supreme Court, the same was dismissed again. A letter petition in this regard by a trainee pilot, Captain Anthony Keyter to the Chief Justice of India also was not represented. 

The recent downgrading of India's aviation safety from category 1 to 2 by US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a testimony to our poor adherence to the safety norms, he maintained. 

Shenoy urged the authorities to strictly comply with the rules and regulations in aviation sector and also to bring to book those responsible for Mangalore plane tragedy. 

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