Besides observing serious lapses on the part of the crew of the Air India Express Boeing 737-800 that crashed here on May 22, 2010, killing 158 passengers, the probe into the accident has pointed to “ineffective” crew resource management (CRM) as well.
Ineffective CRM is listed as one of the contributing factors leading to the crash. The aircraft overshot the table-top runway and plunged off the cliff into a wooded valley. Pilot Z. Glusica had, it is pointed out, ignored the co-pilot's suggestion to go around, instead of landing, on finding that the parameters were incorrect.
The probe found that the pilot was sleeping for an hour and 40 minutes, which could have led to sleep inertia during the Dubai-Mangalore flight.
“…the accident was in the making on the approach itself,” the report said.
The 175-page report by the court of Air Marshal B.N. Gokhale stated that the flight crew was a combination of a foreign PIC (Pilot in Command) and an Indian first officer, who possibly lacked CRM due to mixed cultural issues.”
It said the late first officer H.S. Ahluwalia was known to be stickler for SOP (standard operating procedure). It came to light that the First Officer had complained in writing about one foreign pilot to the management. The management had not counselled him and the foreign pilot. “Possibly due to such feelings, the first officer did not try to wake up the captain,” it said. There was no conversation between the two for a long time during the flight.
The flight crew had failed to carry out the required Descent Preparation Checks. Even the first officer had failed in this respect.
“However, the CRM was not effective, as is evident in the case; a casual tone set by the captain might have affected the first officer. This was evident from the selection of ‘000' on the altitude select window of the model control panel, instead of the missed approach altitude of 2200 ft during the approach. Such serious contravention of SOP was apparently not noticed by either of the pilots.
“That the CRM has not been effective is also evident from a very steep Trans-Cockpit Authority Gradient. Many pilots who had flown with PIC had mentioned to the Court that although captain was quite friendly, he was also more assertive and would display an attitude of ‘I am right.'”
The captain had leaned on the first officer to give an ‘Affirmative' call, though the flight was not correctly positioned on the ILS (instrument landing system) Glide Path during the descent. It concluded that “such ineffective CRM… could have affected the first officer from taking over controls and forcing a ‘Go Around' in an assertive manner.”