No blame game please

The 737 series are in operation since 1970s and till today, over 6,600 of them have been built and are in operation. The aircraft has been equipped to operate in conditions that prevailed in Mangalore on May 22. It has all the advanced systems any aircraft can have in the cockpit - surveillance system, windspeed detection system, TACAS [traffic alert and collision avoidance system], ground proximity warning system, that make airspace safer.

For an aircraft like 737-700, an 8,000-ft runway is perfectly safe to land. The outcry that the runway is short is pure stupidity. As for the weather, it was perfect. Mangalore airport has conditions familiar to any pilot. Visibility was good and so was everything from the operating standpoint.

“I don’t know what was the windspeed and it could be a reason. It may be a fairly new runway but no runway in India is cleared for operations by the DGCA without the airport meeting a host of meeting very stringent conditions. As for it being a table top airport, this is no reason for the crash. You have high rise buildings on either side of the runway in Mumbai. Hong Kong airport is no better,” he said.  

Wait for investigation

As for the speculation about pilot error, it is better not to indulge in guesswork and wait for the investigation reports to come out. None should jump to conclusions. At this stage, pointing finger at anyone could be irresponsible. We should not forget that India lacks qualified commanders and the commander who was manning the aircraft in question had 10,000 hours of flying experience. Expat pilots have come in only because of lack of Indian pilots. So obviously, stress should be given to train Indian pilots so that we don't face their shortage.

Worldwide, a huge amount of $ 7.5 Billion is spent on flight safety and an equal amount on making airport and airspace safer. There is talk that India does not have an independent air safety board like in USA but it will only create one more body. In India, DGCA does that work.  It will take at least a month to decode and analyse the recordings of the black box. If the box has suffered damage, it may taken even six months.

As told to B S Arun

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