“He persisted with landing, despite warnings, leading to loss of 158 lives”

The Air India Express Boeing 737 crash in Mangalore in May 2010 was caused by the failure of the pilot, Captain Zlatko Glusica, — a British national of Serbian origin — to discontinue an “un-stabilised approach” and persisting with the landing.

This has been brought out by the Court of Inquiry (CoI) report which has now been made public, nearly two years after the crash that claimed 158 lives.

The CoI, headed by the former Vice Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Bhushan Nilkanth Gokhale, found that the direct cause of the accident was Capt. Glusica's “failure to discontinue the un-stabilised approach and his persistence in continuing with the landing, despite three calls from the First Officer [H.S. Ahluwalia] to go around and a number of warnings from EGPWS (enhanced ground proximity warning systems).”

The report said the final touchdown of Boeing 737-800 on the morning of May 22, 2010, was “at about 5,200 feet from the beginning of Runway 24, leaving only about 2,800 feet to the end of the paved surface, to stop the aircraft.”

“Soon after landing, the Captain initiated a ‘rather delayed go around' or an attempted take-off, in contravention of Standard Operating Procedure laid down by the manufacturer, Boeing,” the report said. The aircraft had overshot the runway as its right wing hit the Instrument Landing System localiser structure. It then rammed the airport boundary fence and fell into a gorge.

Among recommendations to avoid such accidents was the setting up of an Independent Civil Aviation Safety Board “urgently, in view of rapid growth of aviation in the country.”

The state-of-the-art Boeing 737-800, which was inducted on January 15, 2008, had 166 passengers and a six-member crew on board the budget carrier, flight IX-812, which was coming from Dubai to Mangalore. Capt. Glusica (55) had 10,000 hours of flying experience. The runway at the Mangalore airport is situated on a hillock, which in aviation parlance is known as a table top runway.