Co-pilot's cries went in vain

Co-pilot's cries went in vain

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.


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