The Bharatiya Janata Party here on Saturday offered its condolences to the families of those who died in the Mangalore air crash and said it would refrain from making any comment till the enquiry established the cause of the crash.

Senior party leaders — party president Nitin Gadkari, chairman of the BJP parliamentary party L.K. Advani and Leaders of the Opposition in the two Houses of Parliament Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley released messages expressing shock at the accident that has taken a heavy toll of lives.

However, party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who holds a commercial pilot's licence and had been flying on several routes, did not buy the criticism that the 8,000-feet-long Mangalore airstrip was too short.

He pointed out that the Patna airport had a runway length of just 6,500 feet and various kinds of planes, including the Boeing 737 of the same series as the one that crashed, regularly landed at the airport.He said many airports around the world had table-top runways such as the one in Mangalore and every pilot knew that on such runways the plane must touch down within the touch down zone.

“He cannot afford to overshoot that, and if he has done so by mistake, the pilot has to take a call to turn around, that is, to go full throttle up into the air again,” he said.

One issue that he raised was that many Boeing pilots were pointing out that even when landing at short runways they must not make a heavy landing; otherwise they were asked to explain by the authorities.

This, he said, led to pilots floating down to make a softer touch down and this sometimes led to overshooting the touch down zone.

Mr. Rudy emphasised that he was only talking about various possibilities. The true picture would emerge from an enquiry and after decoding the black box. He stressed neither he nor his party was indulging in any finger pointing.